Breaking Matzah:
Demystifying the Jewish people

Breaking matzah are Luciano Del Negro, Vice-President, Quebec Region of CIJA; Jean-François Royal, Director of the Museum of World Religions; Bishop André Gazaille and Alain Drouin, Mayor of Nicolet (Photo: Le Courrier du Sud).

In the Mauricie region of Nicolet, near Trois-Rivières, a group of francophone Québécois gathered recently to celebrate and to break… matzah. More than 80 people from Nicolet and surrounding regions were the invited guests to a traditional Passover Seder organized by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), in conjunction with the Museum of World Religions.

A tradition started by the Canadian Jewish Congress (now CIJA) in 2004, the Interfaith Seder provides an opportunity to build bridges with non-Jewish Quebec communities and to expose them to Jewish customs and practices.

500+

Over 500 people have participated in the Interfaith Seder since 2004.

“Having these Seders helps make Quebecers understand about Judaism and the Jewish community,” said Myriam Azogui-Halbwax, Assistant Director, Community Relations and Campus at CIJA. Each year, the Seder is held in a different region of Quebec and has been previously held in Sherbrooke, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts and Quebec City. “Most people had never even had any contact with any member of the Jewish community before. This is an integral part of the strategy to demystify images of Jewish people.”

Community leader Joseph Gabbay led the Seder, explained the order of the service and recited the prayers. Bishop André Gazaille spoke of the connection and similarities between Passover and Easter.

“We find some elements of this meal in Easter Vigil. Also, many gestures and rituals of the Seder are found in Christian Eucharist. For all of us, the Seder is a sacred meal that reminds us our common sources,” said Bishop Gazaille, while Luciano Del Negro, Vice-President, Quebec Region of CIJA, noted the commonalities of the symbols of lamb, yeast and wine.

With the Mayor of Nicolet, the Bishop, nuns, francophone Québécois and Jews breaking matzah together, it is fair to say that the community Seder was a huge success.

“They were very happy and grateful to be invited and to learn,” said Azogui-Halbwax. “I would say that they were very appreciative.”


Take part

CIJA is always looking for volunteers to participate in community events. To get involved, please contact Myriam Azogui-Halbwax at mazogui@cija.ca or call 514.345.6411 ext. 3673.

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