Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Passover and Happy Easter!

Happy Passover! Happy Easter! Eid Mubarak wa Majeed!

This year, Passover started on March 25 and ends April 2. So, Happy Pesach! Chag Sameach! Eid Mubarak! Happy Holiday to all the folks who are celebrating! 

I remember my first seder, at Lauren Erdreich's parents' house in Edison, NJ, not far from where Lauren and I were in college. I remember being struck by the beauty and value of having an annual celebration focusing on liberation from oppression and enslavement, the moral consciousness this could awaken in a child, and the reminders it provided to adults. 

Over the years I continued to learn about Passover from such sources as T'ruah: the rabbinic call for human rights (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights - USA), Jewish Voice for Peace (l think it's worth noting this from them as well), and Tikkun.

Of course, who says holiday says food, yum! And though I was raised in Morocco, sadly, I have not been to a Mimouna celebration there. Inshallah, next year in Casablanca! I look forward to being able to exclaim, "T'frah, uw t'rbah!" (Be joyous & prosper!)

That first seder was not my last nor was it my only interfaith experiencesharing friends' religious festivals. I grew up in a multi-faith family, in Morocco, a Muslim-majority nation with hybrid heritage proud of its pluralism. Perhaps because of this, interfaith work gives me inspiration and a deep satisfaction.

You can imagine my pleasure, just as Passover is coming to a close, at finding this interfaith, comparative discussion of the Exodus story (how the Jews fled from ancient Egypt, led by Moses) as described in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.

Passover is not over yet, but today is, of course, Western rite Christians’ Easter. Happy Easter to all those celebrating and observing!

This year, G*d willing, I will travel to Morocco to mark Eastern rite Christian Easter with my mom, who is Greek Orthodox. This year Eastern (or Orthodox) Easter falls on May 5. The Greeks and most Orthodox call Easter Pascha.

The Greek Orthodox Church in Casablanca my mom attends is a part of the Holy Archdiocese of Carthage, itself a part of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, which rules all of the Orthodox churches in Africa. The names alone, Carthage, Alexandria, sound ancient. They are of course, modern towns in Tunisia and Egypt respectively.

I can barely wrap my head around the ecumenical issues or the denominational differences in any religion, but here goes. The Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa is: 
the second in rank of the fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, which in their totality constitute the Orthodoxy, one of the three essential doctrines of Christianity, along with the Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Located in Alexandria of Egypt, its spiritual jurisdiction spreads throughout the African continent, which is accounted as a single geographical Church region.
I care about the Greek Orthodox church in Casablanca because of my mother's tie to it and my passion for diversity and inclusion and my dedication to interfaith work. I also care about it because it is part of the cultural patrimony of Casablanca. The church is a solid example of 1920's modernist architecture that can be found across Casablanca and Morocco, and is worth preserving and feeling proud about. Not too long ago it underwent restoration of its icons and internal d├ęcor and I found these photos on Facebook taken by someone who traveled there. [Note, the person who posted the album calls it a "Cathedral" but it has no bishop and is a small community church.]

Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!

Love, Light, & Peace,

Also of interest:


  1. Love the blog! Would love to do an architectural tour of African Orthodox churches - as well as Mosques, Synagogues, and non-monotheistic religious sites (Karnak!).

  2. This is wonderful Kamal! Keep us posted through FB too. Love L.

  3. Lovely & interesting post, thanks! xo

  4. Excellent post, Kamal. I enjoyed reading it, as well as some of the external pages you included. When we were in Morocco in 2010, I was lucky to observe a ritual at the Greek Orthodox church honoring those who have passed away. We partook of sweet, earthy dishes that signified the passing of the dead into the Earth in what seemed to be an ancient practice. I felt a connection to the eternal that I have rarely experienced in today's dogmatic, superficial religious environments. I consider myself fortunate to have been there, and for one of those remembered to have been my Mom.


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