There was a fabulous event last week at the Maliotis Center on the seminary grounds. Our Metropolis is of course a leader in Orthodox-Catholic relations, but this was one of our first Greek-Jewish events. Hopefully there will be many more. Below are some excerpts from the article:
More than 300 attended a joint event of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston and the American Jewish Committee’s Boston office titled “Passover & Pascha: How Greeks and Jews Shaped Each Other’s history, Culture and Faith” held at the Maliotis Cultural Center on March 2.
The audience was welcomed by His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios who reminded everyone that the Greek Orthodox-Jewish American Dialogue in Boston was initiated by the then Consul General of Greece in Boston, Constantinos Orphanides. Among his remarks, Metropolitan Methodios said: “It is such a pleasure to welcome you to this evening’s program, the first in a series dedicated to enhancing relations between our two communities, the Greek American and Jewish American.
“The Greek and Jewish worlds have made an indelible impact on each other’s histories, cultures, and faiths. Jewish Passover and Greek Orthodox Pascha present the opportunity to explore this historic encounter as we enhance our understanding of our shared history, traditions and interests. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn and appreciate how what we do here in Greater Boston is part of a global tapestry of relations.
“My sincere prayer is that we may enhance our understanding and friendship as we appreciate more fully our two historic traditions.”
Greetings were also offered by the AJC Boston Director Rob Leikind and Rabbi Dan Liben, President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis.
The program was moderated by the Rev. Fr. Demetrios E. Tonias, Pastor of the Taxiarchae Church in Watertown, MA and Ecumenical Officer of the Metropolis of Boston. He presented three questions: (1) Language is an important if not critical component to the maintenance of cultural identity. Nevertheless, both Greeks and Jews in their religious life have appropriated from the other. What are some of the linguistic influences of the Greek language on Judaism and Jewish thought and what are some of the Hebraic linguistic influences on Christianity? How does the linguistic influence appear in the celebration of Passover and Pascha in particular. (2) Many have noted the similarities between the Greek symposium and the Jewish Passover celebrations. In a similar fashion, the Paschal feast is, in many ways, associated with the celebration of the Jewish Passover, as in the determination of the date of Pascha. Could you expand upon some of the Hellenistic influence in the Passover Seder and the Jewish background of the Passover feast? Religious syncretism was pervasive in first century religious life both before and after the destruction of the Temple. Jewish and Christian leaders were well known for their desire to maintain boundaries in the respective religious communities. As we discuss the historical celebration of the feasts of Pascha and Passover, what similarities and differences do you see between Jews and Christian celebrating their respective feasts in the religiously pluralistic environment of 21st century America and that of their co-religionist counterparts who lived 2000 years ago? Addressing the questions were the Rev. Fr. George D. Dragas, Professor of Patrology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and Pastor of the St. John the Baptist Church in Boston, and Professor Jonathan Klawans, Department of Religion and the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University. Both received enthusiastic applause by the audience.
The program concluded with performances by the Rokdim B’Keif Israeli Dancers and the Metropolis of Boston Youth Dance Group. Both groups received resounding applause by the audience.