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  Texas : Feature : Columns : Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories :

One Time a Kitten Named Elijah Came to the Passover Seder Table to Bring Wisdom

by Bill Cherry
Nisan is the first month of the Hebrew calendar, and its relationship to the Roman calendar is that it falls between the months of March and April, depending on how that specific lunar year plays out.

The most important holy day to Jews is the 14th day of Nisan. It marks Passover. Passover's purpose is to celebrate God's deliverance of His people from the bondage of sin. This historical event is contemplated by Jews at an evening family meal known as the Seder. It is there that the discussion and what is served for dinner revolve around what makes that night different from all other nights.

An irony of Christianity is that Jesus' last supper was a Passover Seder. The next day He was nailed to the cross, executed in the most cruel fashion. At that Seder, He told His followers that He would die so that they would be forgiven for their sins. "He who believes in me shall have everlasting life," He then promised. So the celebrations of Passover and Easter have the same theme, God's plan to forgive His people of their sins.

For the next four hundred Passovers after Jesus died, Christian Jews and traditional Jews celebrated Passover together. And then the Roman Empire invented Easter, primarily so that Christian Jews and traditional Jews would be separated. But many scholars say Passover and Easter are one and the same, and they use as their proof that every translation of the Bible except the King James Version, uses "Passover," for the noun "Easter."

The main biblical character of Passover is Elijah, who was a very important Old Testament prophet. With his follower and successor, Elisha, Elijah performed many miracles. An extra place is always set at the Seder table for Elijah. It is done with the hopes that he will come for dinner and news of the coming of the Messiah.

The original settlers of the Denver Court subdivision of Galveston made the neighborhood one that was extremely ecumenical, especially if you will let me liberalize the definition of ecumenical to include Jews.

The Ben Levy family lived two houses from the W.W. Cherrys. Over the years, my mother brought holiday food to them from her table on Christian celebration days, and Mrs. Levy would send the Seder meal and wine to us at Passover.

One Passover evening, my daddy was sitting at the kitchen table by himself, enjoying the meal Mrs. Levy had sent down, sipping the dark purple kosher Mogen David wine, contemplating the awesome story of the Jews being freed from Egyptian slavery, and thinking about the whole story of Elijah. The door from the kitchen to the screened porch was open. The newly spring air was peaceful with a hint of the night blooms of jasmine in the air.

It was then that he heard the meow of a kitten. Staring at him through the porch's screen door was a hungry and obviously abandoned black and white kitten.

Daddy brought him in, and in honor of the occasion he had been contemplating and was celebrating, named the kitten Elijah. He fixed Elijah a small saucer of Mrs. Levy's food, and the two of them finished celebrating the Passover Seder together. From that day on, Elijah and Daddy were inseparable. Wherever Daddy was, Elijah was with him. They even rode together in Daddy's big Lincoln, the one with the super dooper fancy leather upholstery. Daddy, as usual, in his impeccable Louis Roth suit, custom made shirt with his initials embroidered at the waist, Chanel tie and highly polished Nettleton shoes, and Elijah sitting up straight in the passenger's seat, ever so elegant.

Now when the real Elijah was reaching the end of his life, a young field worker named Elisha met up with him one time, and he told Elijah that he wanted to be just like him, and that he was going to be his follower.

So when Elijah died, God transferred Elijah's miracle powers to his protege. With that background in mind, for fun my daddy would claim that all of the knowledge he had, had in reality come from Elijah the cat. Elijah the cat was the apotheosis; Daddy was his Elisha.

Some years later, Elijah disappeared. Searching the neighborhood turned up no clues as to where he was or what might have happened to him. And it wasn't too long thereafter that my daddy passed away unexpectedly a week before Christmas.

Twenty-three years have neither tempered my thanksgiving for the profound influence my daddy had on me, nor has it even begun to reduce how much I miss having him in my daily life.

Sunday, June 20th, was both Father's Day and my birthday. I was by myself because my wife, with my blessing, had driven to McKinney for her grandson's birthday party. I sensed that being alone on that day was going to be difficult. I planned to take flowers to Daddy's grave and then to go to the eleven o'clock service at the church our family has been a member of for nearly three-quarters of a century. Afterwards, it would be Luby's for lunch.

When I opened the church program, I had to grin. It said that the Bible reading would be from 1 Kings 19, the story of Elijah. Can you believe it? Passing up going to Luby's, I rushed home and searched through boxes of snapshots until I found a perfect one of Daddy and his pal, Elijah. I put it in a frame and placed it on the table next to my piano, then I fixed a sandwich. It was a perfect birthday.
Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories
August 3 , 2007 column
Copyright William S. Cherry
All rights reserved


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Bill Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold thousands, and is still available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other bookstores.
Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories
 
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