Passover and Good Friday Celebrated With Burning of Chametz And Carrying of Crosses

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Burning of chametz in Boro Park. Todd Maisel/Bklyner

Friday marked the beginning of Passover in the Jewish faith and Good Friday for Christians worldwide, meaning thousands of people in Brooklyn participated in special religious rituals to mark the holy days.

In the Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, Jewish residents burned bread and other food products considered “chametz” in the streets under supervision of local community volunteer patrols and roving firefighters making sure those fires don’t burn out of control. The chametz are the leavened foods that are forbidden on the Jewish holiday of Passover. According to Jewish law, Jews may not own, eat or benefit from chametz during Passover – and therefore, those foods and packaging are burned in the street.

Burning of chametz in Boro Park. Todd Maisel/Bklyner.

Members of volunteer patrols Shomrim and Shmira supervised the burnings in gated areas outside synagogues so that those fires didn’t burn out of control. In the past, under-supervised fires caused injuries to both children and adults. So far this year, no injuries have been reported.

Burning of chametz in Boro Park. Todd Maisel/Bklyner.

At sundown, the Jewish community begins its observance of the eight-day Passover holiday commemorating the people’s liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt. They will read from the Haggadah which recounts the 10 plagues afflicted upon the Egyptians, the Exodus from Egypt and the acceptance of the laws of the Torah by the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.

The 24th annual Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge to St. Peter’s Church near Ground Zero occurred today on Good Friday, April 19, 2019.  Todd Maisel/Bklyner

Catholics and the rest of the Christian community observe Good Friday as part of their observance of Easter or the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, going into the Easter weekend. To mark this important day, the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation led the “Way of the Cross” over the Brooklyn Bridge.

The 24th annual Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge to St. Peter’s Church near Ground Zero. Todd Maisel/Bkly

The procession included the stations of the cross; a mass at St. James Church on Jay Street, a religious prayer in Zuccotti Park near the World Trade Center and a final stop at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan near the World Trade Center.

The 24th annual Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge. Several hundred people followed the cross, carried by Joshua Layugan. Todd Maisel/Bklyner

The cross was carried to City Hall by Joshua Layugan, a member of Communion and Liberation. At City Hall after prayers and reading of the New Testament of the selected reading to contemplate the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The 24th annual Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge. Todd Maisel/Bklyner

The Cross was handed to retired Firefighter John Bartlett of Staten Island who carried the Cross the rest of the way.

Retired Firefighter John Bartlett of Engine 167 Staten Island carries the cross.

The two observances don’t always fall on the same day or even in the same week. Passover is determined by a lunar calendar, falling on the 15th day of the Assyrian calendar month of Nisan. Easter, meanwhile, relies on the Gregorian calendar, always falling on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

The 24th annual Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge. Todd Maisel/Bklyner

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Todd Maisel
Todd Maisel is an award-winning photographer with more than 35-years, specializing in breaking news. He currently serves as vice president of the New York Press Photographers. He was honored by the National Press Photographers Association and the Uniform Firefighters Association for saving the life of a firefighter he found in debris after the collapse of the World Trade Center, assisting in the rescue of an injured photographer, and for extensive coverage of the attack. Maisel is a graduate of NYU School of Journalism.
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