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Muslims join Jews to celebrate Passover

Melbourne Jews and Muslims made history last night by joining for the first time to celebrate Passover, one of Judaism's most important festivals.

Nearly 100 people took part in the Passover ritual and meal at the Prahran community centre as part of the building bridges program to bring the two faiths together.

The real Passover, in a fortnight, commemorates Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt for the Promised Land some 3500 years ago, an event that is important to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Fred Morgan, rabbi of Temple Beth Israel, who led the Passover meal, said it was the story that bound Jews together.

"It reminds us that we are required to speak out for freedom for all people," Rabbi Morgan said.

Muslims present were fascinated. Before the ceremony began they had little idea of what to expect and most had no idea what it commemorated.

Rabbi Morgan said the service was truncated to make sure it finished before midnight. And it was amended to avoid offending Muslims. Grape juice was drunk instead of wine and the final invocation, "Next year in Jerusalem", was dropped.

Rabbi Morgan said the ceremony, developed in the second to the sixth centuries AD after the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem temple, meant that temple sacrifices could no longer be made. Lamb left the Passover menu then and has not been used for 1939 years.

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