I’m about as nonreligious as it is possible to be (my family is nominally Episcopalian—not a demanding faith, to put it mildly—and I was never even confirmed), but I was struck by a sentence in David’s post below. He wrote, “What provokes reflection—at least for this Jew—is the overlapping of the Christian Holy Week with the Jewish Passover.”
There is, of course, a reason for the overlap. The Last Supper was a Seder, so at the Council of Nicea in 325 it was decided that, as Passover falls exactly on the first full moon of spring, Easter would fall on the Sunday following that moon. And so Easter usually falls shortly after Passover. (Because the Hebrew calendar is lunar, what is called an intercalary month is sometimes inserted to bring the calendar back into conformity with astronomical reality. When that happens, Passover can fall after Easter, as it did a few years ago.) So Passover usually falls in Holy Week, the week that precedes Easter.
This all reminds me of a story Oscar Hammerstein told one Easter lunch. Holy Week was notoriously a bad week for box office on Broadway. One year when Passover fell in it, two brothers who were Broadway writers (I forget their names, but they wrote some of the screenplays of the Marx Brothers movies) decided to go to shul. When they walked in, however, they found very few people waiting for the service to begin.
One brother turned to the other and said, “Boy, not much of a house tonight.”
The other brother shrugged his shoulders in a what-do-you-expect? sort of way and said, “Holy Week!”