Chaburah Dinner


In the time of Christ, a chaburim (Ha-bu-reem’) was usually a group of men who were unified by some kind of bond, such as growing up together, being neighbors, a professional group, followers of a teacher/rabbi, etc.  Jesus and his disciples would have been called a chaburim.

Such groups gathered occasionally for a social event, but more normally during times of crisis for all or for any one person in the group (a kind of support group).  Such meetings likely would be called if one of the chaburim was going on a trip, especially if there was danger involved and the possibility of not returning.  In such a case that person would give instructions for his friends during his absence, and instructions in case he should not return…for the care of his business, family, and affairs…sort of like a will.  A chaburah (Ha-boo’-rah) dinner always included the meal plus discussion or instruction time, and followed a ritualistic form.  It could be hosted by any of the group; however the one going through a crisis would normally call the meeting and act as the host.

It was common in the time of Jesus that members of a chaburim who lived outside of Jerusalem would travel together and arrange for a room and all that was necessary for them to celebrate the Feast of Passover.  They would often be together in the city for several days before joining in the Passover meal.  Probably Jesus went with his Chaburim (Ha-boo-reem’) to Jerusalem just before his death.

It may well have been a Chaburah dinner that was the setting for what we call “The Last Supper”.   See John John 13:1-2.

At every Chaburah dinner there were customs and rules of etiquette:  There was a liturgy to follow, with prayers, etc.

There were always two special cups of wine – one before and one after the meal – with accompanying prayers.

There was always a prayer, over bread, asking God to bless the food.

The prayers and litanies largely were memorized; for they were used also at other formal occasions.  (They were memorized because most could not read.)

Etiquette required following the wishes of the host…and especially not leaving until dismissed by the host.  Also, it would have been terribly rude and insulting to fall asleep before the host had concluded the evening and dismissed his Chaburim.

The order of a Chaburah dinner was vastly different from the order of a celebration of the Passover Dinner.  And John, in his Gospel, reports the events of the Last Supper in a way that totally accords with an Chaburah Dinner.  The dinner we shall observe will be that of a Chaburah Dinner, with passages from the Gospels, as well as from the Ancient Hebrew Book of Berakoth.

We will be having a Chaburah dinner on April 17th on Maundy Thursday at 6:00 pm in Fellowship Hall.  We will be having sign-ups for the food we will need for our dinner that will include:

  • relishes, vegetables with some kind of dip or appetizers
  • bread, cut into chunks, with a dipping sauce (olive oil, maybe flavored; maybe pita, French, or any heavy bread)
  • pots of stew
  • no desserts
  • grape juice or sparkling cider


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