Tag Archive | Passover

Not Satisfied with Half the Picture: My Quest for Truth Beyond Tradition

A few weeks ago, Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler sent out invitations to participate in a book project with the working title, Ten From The Nations: Exploring the Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews.  Her motivation is to increase awareness of the fact that we are witnessing the gradual fulfillment of Zechariah 8:23.  She is doing so by compiling testimonies from non-Jews who have experienced a Torah awakening of some sort, and from Jews who are actively building relationships with those who are stepping forward from the nations. The book will include the voices of Christian Zionists, Bnei Noach, Ephraimites, Gerim and more.
It is an honor to be one of those invited to submit a testimony.  What follows is the story of my journey into an appreciation of Torah and the Hebraic roots of my Christian faith.
For more information on Ten From The Nations, including notice of when it will be available, send an email to tenfromthenations@gmail.com.

For the first few years of my life, people fell into one of two categories:  white, or black.  Then the rules changed and the world got complicated.

Scenes of my formative years. Left: going to church in Pensacola, Florida, with my father and older sister in 1962. Right: Dawson Memorial Baptist Church (with Pastor Edgar M. Arendall) and Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham, Alabama.

The world into which I was born was white, Southern, and Baptist.  That was in 1961, when the requirements of my father’s career in insurance caused my parents to depart from their native Alabama and take up temporary residence in Pensacola, Florida.  As we moved back to Alabama in 1963, the Civil Rights Movement entered its most active stage.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his Letter from Birmingham Jail, sit-ins and marches defied segregationist strongholds, and the Federal Government took steps to correct a longstanding injustice.  Little of this turmoil impacted me until 1968, when a Federal judge ordered the desegregation of Birmingham’s public schools.  One day I went to school with my all-white third grade class of about 20 students; the next day the class had swelled to over forty, half of whom were black.

I cannot say whether the addition of so many new playmates of color caused any trauma to myself, but I know that it shook my parents to their core.  At the end of that academic year, they removed my brother and me from the public school, opting to make the financial sacrifice of placing us in the sanctuary of a Christian academy where we could receive a better education.  It also had the advantage in their eyes of being an all-white school.

Well, almost.  What may have escaped their notice was that Briarwood Christian School had a non-discrimination admissions policy.  That explains the presence of one black child in the kindergarten – the only black child enrolled there during my years at Briarwood.  My education was hardly interracial, and yet this turn of events triggered inexorable alterations to my worldview.  By the age of 8, I learned that the antiseptic white society into which I had been born was less utopian than I had been taught.  There was a world of color awaiting my exploration, and a host of questions that the scripted answers could not begin to satisfy.

What I had been taught was not all wrong.  Much of it was right, but it was incomplete.  So was the worldview of my black counterparts –much of it quite right, but incomplete.  Our combined worldviews formed a far more complete picture, with the white perspective filling gaps in the black perspective, and vice versa.  Thus my education proceeded along two parallel tracks:  a formal track provided by the teachers and preachers at school and church; and an informal track hidden in the recesses of my heart and soul and mind.  The hidden track evaluated everything presented to it, often reaching conclusions at odds with the accepted norms.  Hence the reason it remained hidden.

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The Dilemma of the Ger, Part 3: Dealing with the Kinslaying

This is the third part of a dialogue with Dr. Rivkah Adler of Breaking Israel News on the question of whether the biblical concept of ger, or foreigner, could be considered as a possible status for Torah-keeping non-Jews.  It began with Rivkah’s article, “Are We Witnessing the Restoration of an Ancient Biblical Status for Non-Jews?”, followed by my commentary, “The Dilemma of the Ger, and her observations in “A Jewish Response to the Dilemma of the Ger.

Dealing with the Kinslaying

Albert J. McCarn
April 16,2017

The Kinslaying at Alqualondë, by Ted Nasmith. Used by permission.

A motif running through J.R.R. Tolkien’s fiction works is the exile of the Elves from Valinor, the Blessed Realm of the Valar, the gods of Tolkien’s world.  Those who read The Lord of the Rings first encounter the exiles as the High Elves who aid Frodo and his companions in their flight from the Shire.  Readers who venture into The Silmarillion learn that the High Elves are the Noldor, one of three Elven clans who answered the Valar’s invitation to leave Middle Earth and live in Valinor.  The Vanyar and Teleri – the other two clans – remained in Valinor, but the Noldor rebelled against the Valar and returned to Middle Earth to fight against Morgoth, Tolkien’s equivalent of Satan.

The Noldor had justification for their actions.  Morgoth had stolen the Silmarils, the matchless jewels fashioned by Fëanor, greatest of the Elven craftsmen, and had killed Finwë, Fëanor’s father and king of the Noldor.  Nevertheless, their rebellion under Fëanor’s leadership incurred a sentence of exile and separation from any help the Valar could offer.  Over the next several centuries the Noldor and their allies among the Elves and Men of Middle Earth proved unable to defeat Morgoth, and they suffered a long defeat.  At the end of their strength, the humbled remnant repented and begged help from the Valar.  When help came, Morgoth was defeated and the Valar granted clemency for the Noldor to return to the Blessed Realm, bringing with them the remaining Elves of Middle Earth who had never seen Valinor.

This is the unseen backdrop for the Elves appearing in Tolkien’s later and more popular works.  Those who pick up the story with The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings meet wise Elrond, stern yet kindly Thranduil, and gentle Galadriel, but they have no understanding of their history.  Galadriel, for example, was Fëanor’s niece, and along with his sons and her brothers led the Noldor in rebellion.  Upon passing the test of refusing the Ring of Power when Frodo offers it to her, she proves that she, the only surviving rebel leader, is indeed ready to return home as a humble penitent.

In Galadriel’s story we see the stunning panorama flowing through the body of Tolkien’s works.  Yet there is one missing detail:  he never tells us what happens when the exiles return.  It is a significant omission.  We can imagine the scenes of reconciliation as the Noldor made amends with the eternal Valar, but we do not know what happens when they encountered the brethren they had wronged.  At the beginning of their flight from Valinor, the Noldor demanded of their kin, the Teleri, use of their ships.  The Teleri refused, resulting in a terrible battle known thereafter as the Kinslaying.  As Tolkien describes it, “Thus at last the Teleri were overcome, and a great part of their mariners that dwelt in Alqualondë were wickedly slain.”  If that were not enough, when they arrived on the shores of Middle Earth, Fëanor gave orders to burn the wondrous Telerian ships, craft of great beauty the like of which could never be made again.

What happens when the prodigal Noldor return home is a tale we do not know.  We hope they are reconciled with their brethren, but achieving reconciliation requires conscious effort to overcome the debt of blood between them.  Until that debt is paid or forgiven, the bliss of the Blessed Realm remains unbearably diminished.

Tolkien’s epic thus becomes a parable for us, the returning exiles of the House of Yosef (Joseph).  Like the Noldor, we are guilty not only of rebellion against our God and the king He had anointed, but also of an endless Kinslaying of our brethren of Judah.

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The Cure For Disunity In The House Of Israel – Kimberly Rogers

Recently The Barking Fox posted a series on “The Jerusalem Debate”, which exhorted followers of Messiah Yeshua to consider seriously the commandment to go up to Jerusalem three times a year for the Feasts of YHVH (Passover/Pesach, Pentecost/Shavuot, and Tabernacles/Sukkot).  This is not the first word on the subject, and certainly not the last.  Several months ago Kimberly Rogers of BeastWatch News  released a short video commentary about this question.  In it she suggests that the division within the House of Israel/Joseph/Ephraim and between Joseph and Judah can only be healed when we all begin to go up to Jerusalem, regardless whether there is a Temple there or not.  Watch this video and judge for yourselves:

If you will be in Jerusalem for Pesach this year, consider coming early to hear Kimberly at the Reconciliation of Israel conference – Pesach17 on March 28, 2017.  The purpose of the conference is to consider how rebuilding the Temple can be an impetus between the two Houses for reconciliation.

Always remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and be intentional about going there and sending others to see the city of the Great King as soon and as often as you can!


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The “Official” Snarky Guide To The Differences Between Christmas and Hannukah – Jeff Dunetz

bfb161220-hanukkah-harryIt is that time of year that Christians celebrate Christmas and Jews celebrate Hannukah, and all of us Messianic and Hebrew Roots folks are somewhere in the middle.

Actually, we’re not really in the middle.  Most of us have opted out of Christmas and opted into Hannukah.  Not because we have rejected Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), mind you.  We understand that His birth happened in the fall, most likely at the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah in modern Jewish practice) rather than in December.  We also understand that all the Feasts of the Lord presented in Leviticus 23 are connected to Messiah’s redemptive and restorative work for the nation of Israel and all the world. 

The fact is, we celebrate Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread (Matzot), Firstfruits (Yom Habikkurim), Pentecost (Shavuot), Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Tabernacles (Sukkot) because God established them and called on His people to observe them “as a statute forever”.  That’s different from Christmas, which is a human tradition rather than a Divine decree.  Christmas is a Christianization of the old festivals our ancestors celebrated in honor of other gods before they learned about the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  We have learned that our Messiah is Jewish, which is why we prefer to follow His example rather than the traditions which overshadowed and obscured His Jewishness and the Hebraic origins of our faith.

One might argue that Hannukah is a tradition as well.  Indeed it is, but it is rooted firmly in history as a tale of our God’s salvation of His people in a time of great distress.  Why is it not in the Bible?  Well, it is, in some canons.  The Catholic Bible still has 1st and 2nd Maccabees, the books that tell the Hannukah story.  There is also a mention of it in the New Testament:  John 10:22 tells us that Yeshua was in the Temple during the Feast of Dedication, which is another name for Hannukah.  The point is, the origin of Hannukah is no less real and no less miraculous than the origin of Purim as recorded in the book of Esther.  Our Jewish brethren established both feasts to commemorate the provision of the Almighty and His faithfulness to His covenant.  Is there a better reason to celebrate?

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The Jerusalem Debate – The End of the Matter

The Little Red Hen and her chicks enjoy the fruit of her labors. (©2014-2016 Ross-Sanger)

The Little Red Hen and her chicks enjoy the fruit of her labors. (©2014-2016 Ross-Sanger)

There is a children’s story about a Little Red Hen who worked diligently to feed her chicks and keep her house in order.  One day she found some grain, which she decided to plant.  She asked the other barnyard animals to help, but each of them refused for one reason or another.  The same thing happened each time she asked for help in tending the plants, harvesting the wheat, taking it to the mill to grind into flour, and bake the flour into bread. 

At the end of this lengthy process, as the Little Red Hen pulled the fresh bread hot from the oven, all of the animals came running to help her eat it.  But before any of them could come near, she said, “Not one of you helped me plant the grain, nor tend it, nor harvest it; none of you helped me take it to the mill, and you did not help me bake it into bread.  Why should I share the bread with you now?  It is for my chicks and I, and we will eat it ourselves.”  Whereupon she shut the door, leaving her neighbors to watch longingly as her family enjoyed the fruit of her labors.

This story contains a moral for Hebrews who are debating whether the commandment to go up to Jerusalem for the Feasts of YHVH applies to them.  Quite simply, if we are to enjoy the benefits of a restored Temple of the Living God, and of the nation that will be restored around it, then we had best be doing all we can to help in the process now.

Stop and ponder this for a moment.  Step back from the paradigm which says that the structure on top of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem is a “Jewish Temple”.  It is indeed very Jewish in the sense that only Jews have bothered to rebuild, care for, worship in, pray toward, and long for the restoration of the Temple since the days of the Babylonian Conquest.  For 2,500 years, all that has existed of Israel has been the Jewish people, descendants of the Kingdom of Judah.  It is understandable and logical that the world and the Jewish people themselves believe that the Temple and everything associated with it and with the nation of Israel is now, has always been, and ever will be Jewish.

Yet that is not what Scripture says.  And that gets to the central question in this Jerusalem Debate:  Can the Temple be rebuilt by Judah alone, or is it a project that requires some measure of restoration of Israel’s Lost Tribes – the House of Joseph/Ephraim?

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The Jerusalem Debate – Introduction | The Lamb’s Servant

Worshippers at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem for Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), October 23, 2016.

Do you sense something new in the air?  What is God doing today that is different from a few weeks ago?  If you have followed the posts on this blog and others like it, the answer you find is that we have somehow crossed a threshold into a new era of YHVH’s Kingdom.  Those who expect the Almighty to come through on His promises to restore the entire nation of Israel are now holding our breath in anticipation that we will see huge steps forward in this Hebrew year 5777 (2016-2017).

It is too soon to say for certain what those steps will be, but I have some idea.  The things I observed while in Israel during the Feast of Tabernacles and the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress indicate two great moves are afoot:

  • Accelerated awakening of Hebrews (at this point, mostly Christians) to their identity as Israelites;
  • Accelerated awareness of Jews to this awakening, coupled with a new openness to “Hebrew Christians” who do not want to be identified as Jews, but who keep Sabbath, observe the Feasts of the Lord, eat biblically clean meats, and do other things to honor the Torah (Law) of God as Jews have done for millennia.

Among Christians, at least in my observation, keeping aspects of Torah has gained a degree of understanding and tolerance.  Our brethren in the church are seeing that we have not abandoned Yeshua (Jesus), but instead seek to imitate His example – His very Jewish example.  Most still do not want to accompany us on this path, but they are seeing the relevance of the Feasts in the foundations of their faith and in the prophecies of Messiah and His Kingdom.

Among Jews, again in my observation, there is curiosity coupled with expectation of Messiah’s imminent coming, and with Him the restoration of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel.  Many of us identify with those Lost Tribes, calling ourselves B’ney Yosef (Children of Joseph).  Whether we are physical descendants of the tribes is not as important as what our Jewish brethren are seeing:  we identify as Hebrews and embrace the Torah of YHVH, in many cases more fervently than most Jews.  Moreover, they see that we do this because Yeshua of Nazareth, the one we regard as Messiah, has shown us the way.  They may not understand this (in fact, I’m not sure any of us understand it completely), but they are noticing that many from the Christian world not only proclaim love and support for Jews and for Israel, but identify as Israelites.

Although it is too soon to say where this is going, it is not too soon to consider how to continue this process which the Almighty has begun.  Here is one bold proposition:

Go up to Jerusalem three times a year for the Pilgrim Feasts of Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkot), just as YHVH has commanded.

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7 Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Friends & Family – Kayte Abaffy

One of the most significant developments in the Hebrew Roots movement this past year has is the production of a movie that explains this phenomenon.  Those who have seen The Way:  A Documentary know that it is a quality production that imparts an entertaining, moving, and reasonably balanced presentation of the Torah Awakening among Christians.  This debut work by young filmmakers Luke and Kayte Abaffy has had an expanding impact since its release in August 2016, and likely will receive international attention thanks to a recent screening at the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress in Israel.

In this article, originally published in Torah Sisters Magazine, producer Kayte Abaffy shares her experience and idea on how to present this Torah walk to the people we care about the most – and who often are not very receptive to this message.  Perhaps it is not the message that is the problem, but the manner and timing of the presentation.  That is a central point Kayte makes in this honest and delightful piece.


bfb161106-seven-ways-to-shareOriginally published on Torah Sisters Magazine

Two years ago, I was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway with my husband, sparkling blue ocean to our left and golden mountains to our right, coming home to Los Angeles from a transformative conference in San Diego.  Torah keepers had gathered for a weekend of learning stuff and worshipping and hanging out by the pool till 2am sharing our stories.  And that weekend wasn’t just an awesome conference – it was the start of us filming for The Way documentary, and our first real deep dive into the experiences of people walking in The Way.

bfb161106-pacific-coast-highway

Even after we’d only interviewed our first handful of people, something had already become clear: sharing your new walk with friends and family is … well … a thing.  When we asked interview subjects how people reacted to their new walk (siblings, children, spouses, parents, pastors, lifelong friends), lots of interesting body language things would happen – eyes would well up with tears or dart to the floor, or there’d be a great big sigh, or laughter, or a look of searching for the right words to make a tough situation sound positive.

Of course, some people’s families or friends had taken instant interest, or tried hard to understand what their loved one was learning in the Word.  And some even quickly came to the same understanding.  But for lots of others, the reactions ranged from cold shoulders to confusion, awkwardness to outright hostility.

So how do you share your walk (and enthusiasm for the Torah) with people you love, when there seems to be so much baggage surrounding a conversation that hasn’t even begun yet?

One thought that’s really helped me is to make the fruit of your life available to people who’re actually hungry.  Trees that throw their apples at people are scary, like in The Wizard of Oz.  But in life, a person walks by and picks an apple from the tree when they’re hungry.

So often we try to jam a feast down the throat of a person who’s perfectly full.  And then we’re frustrated when they don’t receive it and wonder why they resent us.  But God works with hunger.  And we should too.  Remember what Yeshua said?  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  It’s hard to convince someone of how great the solution you’ve found is, when they don’t even think there’s a problem.  But the great news is that there are plenty of hungry people out there, we just need to be there to minister to them!

Here are a few other ideas I’ve come up with to share Yeshua and your walk with others, as I’ve marinated on this question over the last two years:

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Israel 2016: Finding Shabbat in Gi’vat Ye’arim

 

bfb161015-shabbat-tableShabbat (Sabbath) in a Jewish community in Israel is different from Shabbat at home in America.  What we have experienced in Israel may be similar to what one would encounter in an American Jewish community, but it is new to us.  We non-Jewish Sabbath keepers, even those of us who have been keeping Shabbat for many years, are still finding our way.  What we know is that Messiah Yeshua kept it, that He taught His disciples to continue obeying the commandments, and that we want to do as He did because we love Him so much.

Our Christian traditions have forbidden us from keeping Shabbat ever since the days of Emperor Constantine, and many of the Jewish traditions seem to make Shabbat incomprehensibly complicated.  Even so, we know that Shabbat is a bubble in time which occurs once in seven days.  When we enter that bubble, we come into a place where YHVH is waiting.  America continues at its frenetic pace around us, with its Saturday football games, festivals, work opportunities, soccer matches, and all the myriad other things we deemed important for much of our lives.  For us that world drifts into the shadows as we turn our attention inward toward home, family, gathering with friends, and meeting with the holy, loving, and kind God Who has invited us to be still and know that He is indeed God.

This is not to say that our Shabbat observance is perfect.  We live in a world where Shabbat is not even a word most people recognize, nor a concept they understand.  We juggle our schedules as best we can to avoid any normal business, work, travel, or other things which keep us from this divine appointment.  That in itself strains relationships with family and friends who do not esteem the day as we do.  Then there are the constant temptations to bend the rules:  to finish that one last bit of work just after the sun sets, or to check up on the scores when our favorite teams are playing, or to compromise by meeting our non-Shabbat-keeping family at a restaurant early on Saturday evening.  We do our best not to be legalistic, but to manage these competing requirements of life in Babylon while obeying our King.

This is where we begin to identify with our Jewish brethren.  They have been living this balancing act for millennia, and it is logical that we look to them for inspiration.  Thus we have come to Gi’vat Ye’arim, not even knowing that we have come here for reasons the Almighty had determined before we even heard of the place.

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The Greater Exodus: less than a year away?? [Updated]

160328 70 WeeksUnderstanding the Bible is a collaborative effort.  YHVH’s people are supposed to discuss His Word, sharing insights with one another, correcting misunderstandings, and collectively probing the deeper meanings of Scripture that the Holy Spirit reveals to hungry, humble hearts.  That’s the intent behind these instructions:

 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NKJV)

It should come as no surprise to followers of this blog that Pete Rambo and I collaborate continuously.  That is why I have no hesitation sharing items from his blog – particularly when we and others are engaged in an ongoing prayerful dialogue to know what the Almighty has to say in these peculiar times.

Reproduced here is Pete’s post from August 28, 2016, in which he highlights a recent teaching by Laura Densmore of Hebrew Nation News.  As he explains, Laura’s perspective on the End of the Age coincides with the perspectives presented this year by Steve Moutria and Greg Raley, two men we have interviewed on Hebrew Nation Radio more than once.  (You can listen to the latest interview with Steve at this link:  http://hebrewnationonline.com/hebrew-nation-morning-show-the-remnant-road-82916/.)  If this perspective is correct, then we are about to see the world change forever within a few weeks.  It may not be Messiah’s return, but it certainly will be a major development in the establishment of His Kingdom.

Is this the “end of the world”?  No, not at all.  It is, however, a quantum shift in the world as we know it.  And what should we do about it?  We have two very clear directions from Scripture:

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An Explanation to a Jewish Brother

In Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus, James Tissot depicts one Jew's honest attempt to understand Yeshua of Nazareth and his followers. Although Nicodemus eventually became one of Yeshua's followers, Christians have overlooked one very important point: neither he nor Yeshua ever ceased being Jewish.

In Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus, James Tissot depicts one Jew’s honest attempt to understand Yeshua of Nazareth and his followers. Although Nicodemus eventually became one of those followers, the world has overlooked one very important point:  neither he nor Yeshua ever ceased being Jewish.

In recent days my friend Pete Rambo and I have enjoyed a lively email exchange with a Jewish brother.  By this time we have identified many of the key differences in our beliefs and the ways we perceive the world.  I think it is safe to say we are confident enough in our relationship that we can ask some pointed questions without fear of alienating one another.  The good thing is that we are all curious about what we believe, and we genuinely want to know how we each perceive the world.  This has been eye-opening on all sides.  I have learned that some of the things I thought I knew about Jews and Judaism were not quite right, just as our friend has learned that some of the things he thought he knew about Christians and Messianic believers were not quite right.  This is the kind of dialogue that is essential if we are to come to an understanding of one another and begin to cooperate in bringing Messiah and building his kingdom.

What I share here is a response provided to our friend in answer to two questions.  The first concerned our celebration of Passover (Pesach) – as in, why do non-Jews celebrate the Feast, and how do we do it?  The second question involved our description of ourselves as something other than Christian.  In other words, how is it that we believe in Yeshua, or Jesus, as Messiah, but do not consider ourselves Christians (or at least traditional Christians).  In the interest of building mutual understanding, here are my answers to those questions.

This year we participated in a Passover seder with friends in Austin, TX, just as we have done for the last three years.  All of our friends have come out of the traditional church, but all embrace Yeshua as Messiah and have a heart to learn and live the Torah as he taught it.  This year we had ten people around the table, including our youngest daughter.  Although she is 22 and about to graduate from the University of Texas, she was still the youngest person there, and it fell to her to ask the traditional questions.

We used a Messianic haggadah from Lion and Lamb Ministries.  In years past we have produced a haggadah of our own, but it’s easier to take one from a source we appreciate and modify as we go along.  That’s precisely what we did.  Since none of us grew up Jewish, we do not know the traditional songs and sayings and prayers.  However, we know enough to see where the traditions of Judaism mesh with what we have learned about Yeshua as our Messiah.  That is why we are comfortable taking a traditional Jewish seder and inserting Messianic and Christian elements.  For example, although we sang a chorus of “Dayeinu”, most of our songs were Christian hymns celebrating the death and resurrection of Yeshua as our Passover Lamb.  We had the four cups of wine and we said the traditional prayers in Hebrew (since my wife and I have studied the most, we got to lead the prayers), but we did leave out a few things (such as horseradish – much to my chagrin since I like horseradish).

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