This month, on March 25th will mark the beginning of this year’s Jewish religious celebration, Passover. It will continue until April 2nd, and marks the anniversary of the Jewish people’s ancient exodus from Egypt. So you can expect numerous celebrations, seminars, and events dedicated to not only Passover, but Jewish culture in general, at synagogues locally and worldwide.
Many people already inherited a general knowledge of the Passover event from Christian influence in our society. Christians also mark Passover as important to their spiritual history, since Jesus Christ was Jewish in origin. They also claim to worship the same God, Yahweh. There the similarities end.
I am not speaking of how each religion views the details of the Passover and what they each interpret it to mean, as much as how they view it historically. Celebration of Passover is going to have the same amount of gravitas to many Jewish people, as Ramadan does to Muslims. Why not include Christmas for Christians you might ask? Or even Easter for that matter?
Simply put, because marked religious events like Passover and Ramadan carry a deeper significance to their people, than Christmas would perhaps does many Christians. When I was a intern, I had to interview various religious leaders as part of my final project. One of these leaders was a local Rabbi and he explained to me a view of religion that I had not previously encountered. He explained that where Christians attach a spiritual meaning to their religion, it is still just a spiritual religion. Judaism is seen as more than just a religion to their followers. It is their physical culture.
Essentially, the religion is seen as the root of a physical people. They have a tangible history and language that was birthed by their religion, not a religion that had attached itself to an pre-existing culture and adapted to fit it.
While all three religions are referred to as the ‘Abraham religions’, Judaism, both claim that their language and tangible culture is all historically valid as a physical culture. Christianity, and to a large degree Islam, largely adapted to cultures that were already there. Being Jewish is even referred to as a separate race after all.
Therefore, Passover is not simply a celebration of a religious event. It can be likened to a combination of Christmas and Independence Day. It is supposed to be both spiritual and historically traceable. This is why so much emphasis is placed on education and the passing on of the knowledge of their religion. It is not just a religion; it is their history, and few people and groups can identify themselves with such a distinction.