WASHINGTON (Apr. 21)
The unleavened bread which links Passover and Easter as it symbolizes both the Jewish exodus from Egypt and the Last Supper took on a modern binding of the two religions here Sunday.
Several truckloads of matzoh originally bound for Jews in the Soviet Union will instead be distributed by a local church near the White House which feeds hundreds of people.
“With a little imagination you can see the connection,” said Rev. John Steinbruck of Luther Place Memorial Church, who began distributing the matzoh right after conducting Easter services. “If the matzoh can’t be used by Jews leaving for an Exodus out of Egypt, which in the contemporary meaning is the Soviet Union, why not let it be used…by the homeless?
“The (Soviet) Jews are people who are being systematically destroyed while the homeless are also people who are being brutalized and raped,” he said.
The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) had packed the 1,500 tons of matzoh for hundreds of Soviet refuseniks in the Soviet Union, but the individual parcels were twice rejected by the Soviet Embassy. The UCSJ offered the matzoh to Steinbruck, who has strong links with the city’s Jewish community and has worked on behalf of Soviet refuseniks.
Steinbruck said he was struck by the symbolism evoked in the request:
“Easter and Passover have a commonality in that they are both intended to sustain, nurture and maintain life and not death…The two traditions are linked, so let’s make the best of them. We’re mutually committed to each other’s survival,” he said.
“The matzoh is the first appetizer for feeding the hungry. Just as it sustained the Jews coming out of Pharaoh’s mud pits, someday (there will be) a promised land for those who are (hungry),” he added.
Steinbruck said although the matzoh might be strange to many of the poor, he had no doubt that it would be eaten. “Hungry people aren’t too discriminating,” he said.