Moses is missing:Moses championed the liberation of Jews...

Newswatch....on religion

March 29, 1991

Moses is missing:

Moses championed the liberation of Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt, but he isn't even mentioned in Passover commemorations of that event, and most people don't know it, rabbis say.

The curious wrinkle is a deliberate, common mark of the Passover celebration beginning tonight, which for centuries has been held annually by Jews worldwide to recall the great emancipating milestone in history.

The haggadah, the compilation of narrative, prayer and exhortations commemorating that drama, doesn't name Moses at all although he led the decisive overthrow of oppression, Jewish leaders point out.

The odd, yet intended omission, dates back to the earliest, ancient forms of the haggadah. It has a deeply theological motive behind it. Judaism's guarding emphasis is to enshrine no god but God, to give allegiance to no paragon, idol or eminence except the Almighty One.

It was to guard against elevating Moses to a central, glorified position that his name has been kept out of formal celebrations of God's deliverance of the enslaved Israelites, Rabbi A. James Rudin, interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, said.

No new name for God:

The phrase "in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier" is not so familiar as "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," but some pastors prefer it when performing baptisms.

They say it avoids the male-centeredness of traditional Christianity.

The conference of bishops of one major Protestant denomination, however, says the new language is inappropriate. "We must be pastoral and sensitive in speaking to the issues of our time," said a recent statement adopted by the bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "Yet we must also be responsible in maintaining the integrity of our orthodox Christianity."

The bishops' document goes on to say that the use of both "masculine and feminine analogies, similes and symbols" can be appropriate.

Koran in Tennessee:

Priests, ministers and rabbis frequently lead the opening prayers in legislatures around the country. But on March 7, Imam Ilyas Muhammad, 62, became a pioneer of sorts when he chanted from the Koran before the Tennessee State Senate.

"This marks a first for Tennessee government and, to my knowledge, a first for America, that a representative of the Islamic faith has been granted the opportunity to lead the Senate or House in prayer," he told the gathered legislators.

The imam is the leader of the American Muslim Community Center in Nashville. He was invited to the Legislature by state Sen. Thelma Harper of Nashville, following complaints from some lawmakers that there was "too much Jesus" in the prayers of ministers who opened legislative sessions and that this was unfair to the diversity of Tennessee religious life.

Pope washes feet in ceremony:

Pope John Paul II washed and kissed the feet of 12 priests on Holy Thursday to commemorate Christ's gesture of humility toward his apostles on the night before he died.

The pope presided at the ceremony in Rome's Basilica of St. John's in Lateran yesterday, in his capacity as bishop of Rome, to begin activities leading up to Easter.

During the Mass commemorating the day Christ instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist, the pope washed, dried and kissed the right foot of 12 priests. According to the Bible, Christ washed the feet of his apostles at the Last Supper as a gesture of service before he was betrayed and arrested.

Today, Good Friday, he will hear the confessions of ordinary Catholics in St. Peter's Basilica and lead a traditional candlelight Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around Rome's ancient Colosseum tonight.


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