One of the fondest memories I have of growing up is celebrating Passover at my aunt and uncle’s house. No, I’m not Jewish; actually, I grew up in a Catholic household. But I’ve been blessed learning about the roots of my faith…
With the availability of resources thanks to the internet and sites like Ancestry.com, today it’s easier than ever to dig into your family history. You can go back years and years and get all kinds of information! Happily, it’s just as easy to explore the roots of the Christian faith…and it’s something that you can do as a process over time.
For our family, it’s also been a wonderful homeschooling field, opening doors to other subject studies and a host of memories and experiences with guests who have shared the celebration with us and been a part of our lives.
Jewish Holidays in Your Homeschool
We’ve been homeschooling for about a gazillion years, and when our 2 oldest were young, my husband and I decided we would institute Passover in our own home. Since we were big on Unit Studies, I considered it the perfect opportunity to create one centered around the holiday. I found a great book, A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays (which I still refer to today) and dug in. We researched Jewish holidays and their significance, and over the years have created decorations, our own Haggadah (program), menu and special touches. This year will be our 20th year, and it has become a very special and important occasion in our home – we all look forward to Passover!
Countless people have been honored guests, and it is always a sacred moment to listen to my husband explain to our friends and family the connections between the prophecies of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in Jesus in the New Testament. Brings tears to my eyes every time…
There are many other significant Jewish holidays throughout the year, and studying them provides awesome opportunities to study world history, ancient history, church history, geography, Hebrew and Middle Eastern cultures, as well as character training and faith.
Holidays That Build Up The Kids
Another Jewish celebration we enjoy serves as a milestone in our children’s lives as they grow to maturity. When our children reach their 13th birthday, we create a blessing service for them, based on the Hebrew Bar/Bat Mitzvah. We prepare, among other ways, by having them learn and memorize a section of Scripture that is meaningful to them (and which they recite for their guests), and I send out letters to beloved friends and family, asking them to send blessings of their own for the birthday child. I compile these all in a scrapbook, along with pictures and other mementos from their childhood, and this, too, is presented to them at their service. Each year we’ve done this, we’ve been privileged to have a special pastor or other adult speak a blessing over them, in addition to those spoken by my husband and myself.
Of course, no celebration is complete without food, and we all enjoy sharing a meal together afterward. Over the years, each Blessing Service has been special and unique and provided us all with sweet memories and life significance. If you’re interested in doing something like this in your own family, I’ve put together all the nuts and bolts in my book: Blessing the Next Generation – How to Release God’s Best in Your Child’s Life.
But…Why do we celebrate these holidays?
OK, so these are some things we do…but you still might be asking why we do them.
- I believe it’s important to know where you are coming from in order to know where you are going. Our roots as Christians are found in the Jewish heritage. The promises God makes to His people apply to Christians as well. Learning about and celebrating the holidays that mark momentous events in Hebrew history helps us see our past, and thus our future, more clearly.
- In terms of the Blessing, we believe that it is an appropriate and significant coming of age celebration, in a culture where we either forget to observe our children’s milestones towards maturity, or we trivialize them.
- An unanticipated benefit has been that it creates a unique family characteristic that our children have enjoyed and benefitted from. Anyone who has a favorite sports team or has played on a team of any kind knows that there is always something around which the team builds unity. Whether it’s their colors or their mascot or their amazing quarterback, it is a source of both identity and pride. The Lord has blessed our family in these ways, too, as we have celebrated these somewhat unusual (for Christian families) holidays, and it has given us opportunities to share our faith together as a family.
And after recently completing a class called “Let’s Worship in Hebrew”, a good friend of mine recommended the book Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. It’s described as “(delineating) the link between Judaism and Christianity, between the Old and the New Testament, and calls Christians to reexamine their Hebrew roots so as to effect a more authentically biblical lifestyle.” (source) I can’t wait to dig into it!
You may find other reasons to celebrate Jewish holidays, and perhaps other holidays or events to commemorate, but whatever you may decide, I pray that He blesses you and your family as He so generously does to those who hear and obey His voice!
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