Articles tagged with: holy week

27 March 2013

Explaining the Holocaust to our Nine Year-Old Daughter

Posted in Culture, Church

seder plateThe other night we had to explain to my 9 year-old daughter what the Holocaust was.

Not because she is learning about it in school, but because it is part of our family story. It is part of her story.

I’m a Lutheran pastor. My wife is Jewish. Her ancestors come from Poland. My wife’s grandmother, we call her Bubbie Helen, was just a teenager when World War II erupted. She lived with her mother, Ella, an accomplished portrait photographer, who owned her own studio in Warsaw, and cared for her sick mother. Her father Eser was a traveling encyclopedia salesman. When the war broke out he was in the United States and he sent them letters urging them to leave Poland before the Nazis invaded. Helen’s mother refused to leave her sick mother.

But Helen did leave. At 16 years old, she set out from Poland. Her father would send her letters leading her to the next safe house. They led her across Siberia, to China, to Japan, where she was on the last US refugee ship to California before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

She arrived in California speaking only Yiddish and with no money. She was taken in by two professors at Cal Berkeley who taught her English. She believed her father was in New York City. His last name was Goldberg. And they called every variation of that name in the New York City phone book until they found him. It took two years until they were reunited.

Later they learned that the rest of Helen’s family died at Auschwitz. My wife’s small family is all that remains.

Now my daughter knows the horrible tragedy of the Holocaust, but also that she comes from a line of strong women, like her great-grandmother Helen, her grandmother, her aunt, and her mom. She knows more now about the evil human beings can perpetrate against one another. She also knows more about strength and courage and living in hope. It is a lesson that our younger three children will also learn in time.

29 March 2012

Why I Don't Pray the Bidding Prayer for Jews on Good Friday

Posted in Church

latin-missalThe "bidding prayers" appointed for Good Friday liturgy include this prayer for Jews:

"Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and your teaching to Moses. Hear our prayers that the people you called and elected as your own may receive the fulfillment of the covenant's promises. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."

It may seem innocuous enough, but this prayer has a long and dark history in the Church.

18 April 2011

I'm Lutheran. She's Jewish. My Interfaith Family Wrestles With Holy Week

Posted in Culture, Church

an-old-wooden-cross-photographic-print-c120400861Last year during Holy Week Boston Globe columnist James Carroll issued a stern warning to preachers.

He wrote that although Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year for Christians, it is also the most dangerous -  because Holy Week has often been the cause and occasion for great violence, especially against Jews.

He recounts, as he does at greater length in his book, Constantine’s Sword, the way that Christians have, until relatively recently, blamed Jews for the death of Jesus, and how the passion readings, for centuries, incited people to leave their churches on Good Friday and commit terrible acts of violence against Jews.

It is a haunting legacy that impacts us still. And so, his plea to preachers is this: “preach peace.” Preach peace in Holy Week.