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Christian, Jewish holidays intersect Friday

Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

J.R. Galvez, 30, portraying Jesus Christ, is crucified on a cross as part of a voluntary ritual to mark the death of Christ ahead of Good Friday in Mandaluyong city, metro Manila on Thursday.

Updated 6:50 p.m. ET Friday: Religious observances intersect this year for two major faiths. As Christians around the world continue their Holy Week with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Jews will begin Passover on Friday at sunset. The confluence comes as the Jewish lunar-based calendar makes the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan fall on Good Friday.

On Maundy Thursday, foot-washing was a part of many ceremonies, as Jesus washed the feet of disciples at the Last Supper the night before he was crucified.


In London, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Princess Beatrice attended services at York Minster as part of the Queen’s diamond Jubilee tour of the country, the Daily Mail reported.

In Manila, a crucifixion was re-enacted ahead of Good Friday, when many penitents are expected to be nailed to crosses in displays of religious devotion.

Good Friday marks the day Jesus was nailed to the cross. Many churches will hold services, Passion plays and dramatic readings. Many bakeries will feature hot cross buns.

Stock markets will be closed.

Abir Sultan / EPA

Ultra-orthodox Jewish bakers prepare shmura matzo, unleavened bread, Thursday in preparation for the Jewish holiday of Passover. The scene was a bakery at the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem.

In New York, thousands are expected for morning Good Friday processions, including one over the Brooklyn Bridge to Ground Zero in Manhattan.

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On Friday evening, Passover starts with a seder, a festive meal in which food and rituals symbolically help in retelling the Jews’ exodus from Egypt and freedom from bondage. A key symbol at the seder and throughout the eight-day holiday is matzo, unleavened bread representing the haste in which Jews fled: They couldn’t even wait for bread dough to rise.

“Passover is really a story of salvation, although many now consider it a story of freedom,’’ Rabbi Mitch Chefitz, scholar-in-residence at Miami’s Temple Israel, told the Miami Herald.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle plan to join a small seder at the White House, a tradition inspired from a 2008 pause along the primary campaign trail in Pennsylvania. Then-candidate Obama joined Jewish staffers holding a seder, which concludes with the line: “Next year in Jerusalem.” Obama pledged, “Next year in the White House.”

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On Thursday, Obama issued a Passover message noting “the story of that first Exodus has also inspired those who are not Jewish” with common hopes and a common sense of obligation to “repairing the world” and “making our union more perfect.”

Holy Saturday, the last day of Lent, marks the last day Jesus lay in his tomb.

On Easter Sunday, marking Jesus’ resurrection, many Christians gather for Easter sunrise services, have formal suppers and hold Easter egg hunts with dyed eggs. It is the end of Lent, the 40-day period of pentinence and fasting that began with Ash Wednesday.

Easter “is our commemoration of passing over from the bondage of sin to a new life of freedom,” The Rev. Douglas McCaleb, dean of Miami’s Trinity Cathedral, told the Herald.

On Friday, the the president issued a statement about Easter:

"This Sunday, Michelle and I will join Christians across the country and around the world to celebrate Easter and give thanks for the all-important gift of grace.  Easter is a time to reflect on both Christ’s suffering and ultimate triumph, as the anguish of the cross continues to give way to the victory of resurrection.  So to all those celebrating with us, we extend our warmest Easter greetings and best wishes in the days ahead.

The White House on Monday hosts the 134th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, with the theme “Let's Go, Let's Play, Let's Move.” More than 35,000 people are expected on the South Lawn for games, stories and a traditional egg roll.

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