By Larry Blustein
Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter and Passover Grab The Spotlight
All April Capriola could talk about on Monday night was the devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
As a Catholic, she felt such a connection with those in Paris and around the world. The news was something that hit millions like a ton of bricks.
In what was to be a great week with Palm Sunday (this past week), Good Friday, Easter and the start of Passover was overshadowed - in a major way - with the news of two-thirds of the building's roof being destroyed and centuries of iconic treasures gone - in hours.
“Not the news you expect on a week like this,” Capriola explained. “It just hit me, like I was so shocked that something so iconic was destroyed - in God’s house.”
As French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation on Monday night. Macron called the fire a "terrible tragedy" and confirmed that the cathedral's stone facade and two main towers avoided collapsing amid the destruction. Little solace to those who have visited and have those lasting memories.
Notre Dame Cathedral is the most visited landmark in Paris. Even more than the famed Eiffel Tower - and that is why many had such a vast connection with this iconic structure that began construction in 1163 and finished in 1345.
THE WEEK AHEAD
As south Floridians will continue to pray for those affected around the world by this tragedy, the experience of observing the holidays ahead will be different this year.
Good Friday occurs during this Holy Week and is celebrated as a national holiday in countries all around the world, specifically Catholic and Christian nations.
During Good Friday, many people observe the holiday by fasting and praying. Good Friday has been dated all the way back to the 4th century and is celebrated to commemorate Jesus Christ and his crucifixion.
Churches around the world have also observed this religious holiday by reenacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
As many know, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb on the third day after his crucifixion. Easter is the fulfilled prophecy of the Messiah who would be persecuted, die for our sins, and rise on the third day.
Remembering the resurrection of Jesus is a way to renew daily hope that we have victory over sin. According to the New Testament, Easter is three days after the death of Jesus on the cross.
Easter follows a period of fasting called Lent, in which many churches set aside time for repentance and remembrance. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Good Friday, the day of Jesus' crucifixion.
It has always been viewed as a family day. When church and the meal following is designed to make this a memorable gathering.
Ken Stone and his family will spend this Sunday going to church, having a brunch at home with family and friends and keeping it all about those who are close in his life.
Raised a Catholic in New York City, he had the opportunity to pray in some iconic houses of worship through the years. With three sons, his mother and father in law, four siblings all living in North Miami Beach, this is the one holiday that they all get together.
“With so many people, we can never get together as a family,” Stone said. “I married a Cuban woman and she also has a ton of family, so what this coming Sunday will be is prayer, great food and the most important thing, family.”
Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is a Jewish festival celebrating the exodus from Egypt and the Israelites’ freedom from slavery to the Egyptians. The Feast of Passover, along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was the first of the festivals to be commanded by G-d for Israel to observe. Commemorations involve a special meal called the Seder, featuring unleavened bread and other food items symbolic of various aspects of the exodus.
Once again, this is a family holiday that begins with the Seder, which is a feast that includes reading, drinking wine, telling stories, eating special foods, singing, and other Passover traditions.
During the course of the evening you will have: four cups of wine, veggies dipped in saltwater, flat, dry cracker-like bread called matzah, bitter herbs, often horseradish and romaine lettuce, dipped into charoset (a paste of nuts, apples, pears and wine).
A festive meal may contain time-honored favorites, like chicken soup and gefilte fish - along with brisket and other great foods.
“What we love about this holiday the most is great food, the interaction between the adults and children and the family unit,” Hollywood resident Sharon Miller. “Now that we have a family, my husband and I play host and run the entire first night. I am very much looking forward to.”
With the tragedy in Paris on Monday, this is indeed a time of reflection - no matter what religious beliefs you have.
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