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Rabbi Hopes Seder Brings More Community Involvement

Congregation Adath Israel holds an interfaith seder that the rabbi hopes will be the start of many more community events.

Nearly 150 people will be attending an interfaith seder at Congregation Adath Israel on Sunday that the rabbi hopes will be the start of many more community events to come.

“We are a very small minority in Newtown,” Rabbi Shaul Praver said. “In order for us to be relevant in a town like Newtown we have to move more and more into this kind of ecumenical service.”

The congregation, which Prvaer described as an independent contemporary conservative one, has about 100 families that belong to it, many in interfaith marriages.

Members hold similar social values as of Reform Judaism – accepting of same gender household and progressive social norms – but still remain faithful to traditions of Conservative Judaism, such as praying in Hebrew, although the congregation is not affiliated with either of those movements.

In the past, Praver has participated in an interfaith seder at St. Rose of Lima Church but it would generally be a service run out of the Catholic Church rather than one wide open to the community, he said, adding he would like to hold more open community events at the temple.

“This is important because we want to be a part of the community and be involved in it,” Praver said. “Our service is not just to be a service to the Jewish community, it’s to be of a service to the community.”

Newtown resident and Trinity Church parishioner Donna Monteleone said she came up with the idea for the interfaith seder after seeing similar ones when she lived in Millburn, N.J.

“We used to do a lot of interfaith activity together as a community,” she said, adding that she got in touch with the other clergy in town and helped organized it with Susan Rubin, the parish secretary at Congregation Adath Israel.

In addition to temple and Trinity, St. Rose, United Methodist, Newtown Congregational, as well as an ecumenical chaplain at the Lutheran Home of Southbury will participate in the service that starts at 4 p.m., Sunday at 115 Huntingtown Road.

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