From Symposium to Seder: How The Rabbinic Adoption of Roman Party Conventions Became Our Passover Seder

Robbie Harris
| Pesah By :  Robert Harris Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages Posted On Apr 15, 2024 / 5784 | Monday Webinar Timely Insight | Holidays

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With Dr. Robert Harris, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages, JTS

In the years following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Jewish observance of Passover underwent a seismic shift. In lieu of the now impossible sacrificial Temple ritual, the rabbis adopted the Roman symposium in order to create a new type of festival meal, one that was rooted in new rituals and intellectual discourse. Together we explore what led to the rabbinic decision to conduct the Seder in this way, rather than opting for a different way to commemorate Passover, such as instructing the Jewish people to perform the sacrifice in their homes. We also examine some of the questions and answers in the Haggadah which are central features of the Roman symposium and core to our Haggadah. 


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