The Seder Dinner – We begin Holy Week in a month with the Passover meal - this Saturday!
The Passover Meal was first celebrated approximately 5 centuries before Christ was born. It commemorates the meal the Jewish people ate on the night before their escape from the slavery of the Egyptians. On this night, YHWH “passed over” the houses of the Israelites, whose doorposts were marked with the blood of a spring lamb. This “passing over” spared the lives of the Israelites first-born son, while the wrath of YHWH took the lives of the first born sons of the Egyptians whose doors were not marked.
Our Seder Meal, (This year actually celebrated on the first day of Passover) includes ritual prayers, the blessing (and drinking) of 4 cups of wine, song, proclamation, blessings (Berakah) tasting the ritual foods including bitter herbs, a sweet mixture of apples, and breaking Matza bread. Matza is a flat, unleavened bread, and it is used reminiscent of the fact that they left Egypt in such a hurry, that they did not have time to make proper bread giving it time to raise.
Why do WE keep this Jewish tradition at a Catholic Church?
This meal is the meal that Jesus ate with his disciples on the night before he died, giving it a new meaning – he gave himself to his disciples as his Body and Blood. On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and hear the story of the original Passover from Exodus 12. Then we immediately hear two diverse stories and messages of the Last Supper – the Passover meal Jesus ate with his friends, as a good and faithful Jewish man. We will hear 1 Corinthians 11: 23 ff which is the earliest written account of the Last Supper and the giving of the Eucharist to his followers. Then we hear John 13 in which Jesus, at the Passover meal, gives his disciples a new commandment – a command to serve and wash each other’s feet.
Be entering into this traditional Seder Dinner experience, we are entering into the life and milieu of Jesus in a more profound way, and participation in the meal will draw you deeper into the central act of worship – the Eucharist. In fact, the Passover Meal is considered the historical precursor of the meal we know as the Mass. The prayer over the bread and wine when they are placed on the altar, is directly inspired from one of the blessing prayers of the Seder Dinner.
Blessed are you, Lord God of All creation.
For through your goodness we have received this bread we offer you:
Fruit of the earth and work of human hands,
It will become for us the bread of life.
Saturday, Mar. 27 | 6:15-8:15 p.m. | Accesible via Livestream
All meal orders must be picked up between 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 27, 2021 at St. Monica Catholic Community.
The Seder dinner provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how the Lord delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. The order of the meal is given to us through a Haggadah (“the telling” in Hebrew), which includes directions to pray and enjoy the ritual through food. Seder participants gather around a table to eat and drink items that remind them of the exodus using salty, sweet, savory and bitter flavors.
Participation in this meal gives us a more profound understanding of the Eucharist. This is the Passover meal that Jesus ate with his disciples on the night before he died. He gave his followers the example and the new maundatum (command/law) to serve (wash feet) and to break bread and share a cup of wine with the berakah (blessing) as he gave them the gift of his Body and Blood. Catholics remember this at the evening Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.
A purchase of the Seder meal kit includes a printed Haggadah booklet, items for the Seder plate, and Dinner Kit.
Arugula and romaine salad with green apple, candied walnuts, shaved fennel, and whole lemon vinaigrette
Chef’s signature braised brisket with pan jus demi-glace
-- OR --
Veggie-vegan lasagna option
Candied carrots and chives, torn potatoes – par cooked, then fried.
Assorted dessert bars
(Per Adult Meal) -- Half-bottle, twist-off cap, Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve
Celebrating the Seder Passover meal with parishioners and friends of the community began over 34 years ago under the leadership of Msgr. Torgerson. Passover and our Easter week celebrations begin during the first light of the full moon of Spring. The Passover dinner commemorates the Exodus narrative of the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt and the “passing over” of the forces of destruction. It is the Passover meal that was the Last Supper of Jesus before his crucifixion.
Msgr. Torgerson wanted to unite Jewish and Christian communities together by celebrating the beautiful Seder tradition the Saturday before Palm Sunday. The first cantor for the dinner was David Hines, who we honor every year, and Fran Curry of happy memory committed her time, talent, and heart to its success. The early meals were completely supported by parish families including among many others, the Boe, Davis, and Crear Families, who prepared the meals days in advance. Students and the hospitality ministry from St. Monica Catholic High School volunteered and worked closely with the parish. Kim Fine, who converted from Judaism to Catholicism, gave us a deeper understanding of the ritual celebration as our emcee for many years and in the recent past. Participants include parishioners, our Jewish neighbors, Holocaust survivors, and most importantly our RCIA candidates.
The celebration of Christ, the Lamb of God, through the Seder meal tradition, along with holy week services such as Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday gives us a richer more meaningful Easter. Participating in the Seder meal on Mar. 27 provides an opportunity to bring the traditional foods and prayers into our homes. It gives us a chance to connect during a time when we cannot gather as a group in person, grow spiritually, worship, and connect to our Jewish roots. For more information click on visit the Seder Dinner Page.
-Compiled by Patricia Summers
I look forward to attending the Seder dinner every year because I enjoy participating in the rituals and learning more about our Jewish history. Lent for me is a time of reflection, and commemorating the Passover meal reminds me of the origins of our faith and why we celebrate the Eucharist. I'm glad that we are able to continue the tradition online this year from the safety of our homes, but still be united with our community, family, and friends. It has been important for me to stay connected with others over the past several months and find new ways to develop my spirituality and growth. If you've never attended the Seder or have been attending for years, I think the event this year will be an extra special evening of faith.
- Liz Christian
The St. Monica’s Seder dinner is an integral part of our family and friend’s Lenten experience each year as we usually get a table together. It allows us an opportunity in community to remember and celebrate the rich heritage of the Jewish faith tradition that was also celebrated by Jesus. We truly enjoy being closer to our Lord in reading the words and tasting the foods that Jesus himself experienced. We are so excited to be able to continue this tradition this year — even virtually.
It was so meaningful to me to have my parents, and especially my Dad, with us to celebrate Seder. What a gift to share this tradition with him, and all of my St. Monica Family. Growing up, I heard so much about my Dad's Jewish roots, and his traditions in his family. One of the most important was celebrating Passover together. We celebrated Seder in my house as a child, and so it was particularly special to share Seder with my parents and my husband as we honored our Catholic faith as well. One of the biggest gifts of this experience is that it is one of the main things that led all of us to go to The Holy Land with St. Monica, together as a family. Truly the blessing of a lifetime.
- Sarah, pictured above with her husband, Chris
I was really impressed with the dedication to making the Seder completely authentic at each table. It was splendidly detailed. I was amazed at the group of Catholic members at my table who were completely knowledgeable about the Seder and seemed to really enjoy participating in it. They knew the traditions, words, songs, more correctly than many Jewish people that I know.
Perhaps the most emotional for me......during my youth, the Seder was always at my home with extended family including parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. I hadn't thought about it for decades. I was overwhelmed with memories of those family times. Nearly all of the older members of the family have since died; I could not help but be overwhelmed about the passage of time. It was a wonderful evening. I especially enjoyed meeting Sarah and Chris' close friends at St. Monica.
-Marshall, pictured above with his son, Chris
Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson has been pastor of St. Monica Catholic Community for over 30 years, and under his leadership, the Seder Dinner begin with the help of many volunteers in the community. He wanted to offer this Passover Meal opportunity to forge interfaith relationships and help people make the connections between the Eucharist and the historical antecedent of the Eucharist – the Passover Meal. He will serve as leader of the dinner.
Gary Denk has served in music ministry for all of his adult life, the past two decades at St. Monica. He has recorded and sung on recordings of sacred music, and our community has had the blessing of him leading music for the 7:30 am Mass these past years. Gary serves also on our parish staff as funeral coordinator and has been assisting with other sacraments and liturgical celebrations during the pandemic. He is an accomplished poet, and an engaged member of the community.
We are grateful to have Rabbi Dr. Miriyam Glazer participating in our Seder Dinner this year. She will provide some commentary and teaching on the ritual elements of the sacred meal of memory. Her most recent book is Psalms of the Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to their Beauty, Power and Meaning, a new translation and commentary. She has spoken at St. Monica during the Psalms lecture series, Honest2God. She is Emerita professor of literature at American Jewish University, Rabbi Glazer was previously Head of the Foreign Literatures Department at Ben Gurion University.
For the past 30 years, Cantor Ken Cohen has served Reform and Conservative synagogues across the US. He received degrees in History & Ethnomusicology from SUNY Binghamton, and was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC. He combines his inspiring voice with his knowledge and wisdom of Judaism and sacred music, helps bring about peace, healing, and joy. Cantor Cohen served as Director of Cantorial Studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion for 18 years, and was given the Jewish Music Leadership Award helping inspire future spiritual leaders of the Jewish people. Ken’s passion is building bridges between interfaith communities around Los Angeles, through concerts and dialogue. Ken joins us for commentary on the ritual and to lead some of our singing of traditional Jewish melodies.
The Head Chef for the event is Derek Brandon Walker – owner and developer of the Mar Vista Grab & Go and The Mar Vista restaurant, and past executive chef and mentor at the St. Joseph Center where he developed the Culinary Arts program to lift the working poor out of poverty level wages and learn skills to gain employment in the culinary field. Chef Derek is a native of Los Angeles, has worked in the culinary field for 21 years, and is well known at St. Monica to those who have participated in the Seder Dinner over the past several years. In addition to his restaurant work, he is a private chef, and has a new fast casual restaurant opening in DTLA slated for late 2021.
A participant wrote to us:
Thank you for a wonderful Seder on Zoom. I have been volunteering with St Monica’s for many years I live in the neighborhood. I am Jewish and the Seder you brought to the community was far superior to any of the Temple offerings. Just the fact that we all had repast together was comforting. Rabbi and canter and your very own Funeral and memorial person were exceptional. I live alone and in this pandemic times this was most comforting. - Sincerely, A friendly neighbor