Jewish families gathered on Monday night to share the story of their ancestors’ journey from bondage to freedom during the Passover Seder.
Passover, which began at sundown Monday, commemorates the exodus of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. During the eight-day celebration, families and friends typically gather on the first two nights to share the Seder meal.
The Jewish faithful are commanded to retell the Passover story every year and traditionally do so during the Seder meal, using a book called the Haggadah as a guide. The Haggadah states, “In every generation, a person is obligated to see themselves as though they personally went out of Egypt.” Some interpret the passage to mean the exodus from slavery to freedom is spiritual as well as physical.
Symbolic foods on the Seder plate are also used and serve as reminders for answering four questions about why the Passover meal is different: Why do we eat unleavened bread? Why do we eat bitter herbs? Why do we dip the herbs in saltwater and a sweet garnish? Why do we eat with special ceremony?
The key elements of the customary Seder plate — the centerpiece of the table — are:
• Matzo [which recalls the haste with which the Hebrews had to leave Egypt]
• Bitter herbs [which symbolize the bitterness of Jewish life in slavery]
• A roasted lamb bone [which represents the lamb that was eaten with matzo during the first Passover]
• Parsley [which symbolizes the coming of spring] dipped in saltwater [which recalls the tears shed in Egypt]
• A roasted egg [a reminder that new life grows in spring]
• A chopped apple and nut mixture [to represent the mortar the slaves used to make bricks].
Passover, the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday, will conclude at sundown April 2.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.