EASTER, KANKAKEE BY THE SEA AND ISRAEL
Happy Easter to all my Honey Bees and your families! Though I am of a different faith, I feel our attachment.
As my faithful readers know, I am Jewish. However, I grew up in a small town, Kankakee by the Sea, where Christianity was the predominant religion. Therefore, my friends were Christian. At a young age, I was exposed to their religion. My friends invited me to their homes for Christmas and Easter dinners, Easter Egg hunts, and attending Easter midnight mass. I listened to lively family conversations around holiday dinner tables. Always, there were questions about my religion, Judaism, which I loved answering.
Though I did feel like an outsider at times because I was in a minority, this was not the fault of my friends. Christianity is a religion; Judaism is a religion and in my opinion, a culture.
MY CONNECTION TO CHRISTIANITY
During my travels to Israel, I was able to relate to Christianity. In Tiberias, one of the four holy cities of Israel, our hotel, The Scots, was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
At that time, I recall thinking how special it would have been to share the experience. How nice it would be with a few of my close friends that I grew up with in Kankakee by the Sea.
In the old city of Jerusalem, I felt the same way when I visited the Christian Quarter. And the most holy site, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I had to visit Bethlehem and Nazareth because I wanted to see and learn. And I did!
During that time, I learned that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon in the spring. This is when there are equal periods of light and darkness. Most holidays share a connection with a season.
Celebrating Easter in spring means the coming back to life of flowers, plants, and trees. Not to mention, births in the animal world. So it is natural to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of the year. Everything reverts back to nature.
In my studies, I learned why the holiday is named Easter. Did you know that goes back to the name of a pre-Christian goddess in England, Eostre? She was celebrated at the beginning of Spring! This is referenced by a British monk, Bebe, who lived in the late seventh century. The monk was so influential that the name stuck.
There are fascinating similarities between Easter and Passover. They both fall in the Spring of the year and their dates connect. The blood of the blemish-free lamb was marked on the doors of the Egyptian homes. So commanded by God to save the lives of the Hebrew children. The new testament teaches that Jesus, who was also blemish-free, shed his blood to save humankind. And his disciples compared Jesus to a lamb explaining he fulfilled the old testament prophecies. In my mind, their most profound connection is … connection.
I have friends of all faiths. My connections run deep outside of friendship. Because my friends have educated me about their religious beliefs and experiences.