By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published April 16, 2020
ATLANTA—Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., joined the American Jewish Community (AJC) in Atlanta for the first virtual Atlanta Unity Seder on Monday, April 6.
A Seder is held the first night of Passover and recounts the ten plagues from the book of Exodus in the Bible to remember how God delivered the Jewish people from slavery. It is celebrated around a dinner table that includes prayer, lighting candles, food and telling stories.
Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines of social distancing in response to COVID-19, the Seder program was shortened, conducted on Zoom and available for people to watch on Facebook. There were also breakout sessions for guests to connect with others.
Archbishop Hartmayer joined many faith, community and ethnic leaders of Atlana who shared messages of hope and unity. He will be installed as the seventh archbishop of Atlanta May 6.
“I’m very honored to be invited to this Seder meal and to participate in this great tradition of the church,” said Archbishop Hartmayer, who gave a prayer during the program. “It’s a very traditional, rich experience for family and for gathering of friends who want to give thanks and to reflect upon their blessings.”
“During this time, for the archbishop to participate in our virtual Seder, shows the true strength of Catholic-Jewish relations,” said Dov Wilker, regional director for AJC Atlanta. “His words of unity and solidarity are an example for the entire community.”
“We were honored to be able to join with the archbishop in celebrating this holy season together, as Passover and Easter share this week and Ramadan begins later this month,” said Rabbi Loren Filson Lapidus, from The Temple in Atlanta. “His prayer for unity was truly a blessing for all.”