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Passover, Holy Week, and the Human Journey to Liberation

purple flower

By Julie Avis Rogers

As our Emerson community continues moving forward amidst the jarring realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, two of our major faith traditions are embarking on some of their holiest days this week. Whether or not you are observing these holy days, there may be helpful reminders about the human journey from struggle and oppression to liberation and rebirth within this week’s sacred observances.

The Jewish observance of Passover, which began on April 8 and continues until April 16, commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, and thus the act of resistance from slavery and oppression to wholeness and liberation. As a recent opinion piece in The New York Times poignantly stated, “The entire holiday is rooted in glorifying a moment when life unfolded in very unexpected ways — and human beings found meaning, even liberation, in it.” While we may be so far from finding meaning or liberation in the difficulty of today, I do believe the Passover story may be a reminder of the strength of the human spirit. 

Similarly significant, the Christian passage through Holy Week, which begins on April 9 with Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday and continues on through Easter Sunday (April 12), remembers the execution to the rebirth and resurrection of the tradition’s central figure, Jesus Christ. As with the powerful narrative of Passover, Holy Week also tells a story of human strength and resilience as we move from suffering and mourning to eventually a sense of renewed hope and liberation. 

Whether or not you count these traditions and sacred stories as your own, I hope so much that they may be for you a source of inspiration that there is liberation and wholeness that awaits us even amongst the struggles that we find ourselves in today.

If you are interested in experiencing these narratives and holy days for yourself, we invite you to join us in the following ways: 

Holy Week resources from the Christian tradition

  • Maundy Thursday Recorded Video Service, “bring your own bread and wine,” with Protestant Chaplain Brian Indrelie (access this anytime): Video link here
  • Good Friday written guided meditation by Protestant Chaplain Brian Indrelie (will be uploaded Friday morning) :
  • Stations of the Cross service on Good Friday (April 9), hosted by Catholic Chaplain Kristelle Angelli at 3:00 pm EST via Zoom (for the zoom link, please email

Passover resources from the Jewish tradition:

  • Prince of Egypt movie screening and community building with Emerson Hillel: Saturday, April 11, at 9:00 pm EST – email Jake Freedman for Zoom link (
  • Cooking Passover food tutorial videos on Emerson Hillel Facebook page

Julie Avis Rogers is Director of Religious & Spiritual Life and Campus Chaplain at Emerson College. This piece originally was published on EmConnect.

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