Unitarian Universalists celebrate Passover

(Photo: Reuters / Baz Ratner)Jewish worshippers wrapped in prayer shawls take part in a special priestly blessing during the Jewish holiday of Passover at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City March 28, 2013.

Dayna Edwards was expecting a fair-sized group of people over for a Passover Seder.

Edwards, however, is not Jewish.

The director of religious exploration at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, Edwards is in charge of the annual church Seder – a staple celebration in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, held on Saturday.

Edwards said Unitarian Universalists have been celebrating Passover since the church's inception in 1961, much in keeping with its value of adopting wisdom from a variety of faith traditions.

"For Unitarian Universalists, I think [celebrating Passover is] honoring the wisdom that comes from the Old Testament – and that comes from the freedom struggle of Moses – and honoring how that ties into the story of Jesus," she said. "There's a tie in of two of the wisdom traditions we find a lot of truth in."

Traditionally, Passover is the Jewish holy day commemorating the night the God sent the angel of death to Egypt in the final of his ten plagues orchestrated to bring the Hebrew people out of slavery there. Although the first-born Egyptian children and livestock died, the faithful Hebrew were protected by the lamb blood painted on their doorposts.

Rabbi Joshua Sherwin, the Jewish chaplain at the U.S. Naval Academy, will preside over the Seder at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, which, this year, is open to more than church members.

"This year we wanted to open it up to the larger community, so that it allows people to show up that may have not been to a Passover Seder – who may be afraid of doing the wrong thing – and have it explained a little and be a bit more relaxed," Edwards said.

For her, the Seder is about relationship and community.

"The Unitarian Universalist Passover Seder is really a place for someone from any faith background – or no faith background at all – to experience the richness and symbolism in a more laid back manner," she said.

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