Institute of Jewish Services and Studies Celebrates Passover

Melanie Einbund

Institute of Jewish Services and Studies (IJSS) March services will be held on Friday, March 26 at 7 p.m. Rabbi Seltzer will be officiating. Services will be viewed via Zoom.

IJSS members will be receiving (by email) the Zoom link prior to Friday, Feb. 26.

The Holiday

The Jewish Holiday of Passover begins on March 27 and ends April 4. Passover commemorates the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Seder meals with family, friends, and guests are held. Symbolic foods (horseradish, fresh greens, eggs, matzah, etc.), wine are eaten along with a holiday meal. The story of the Exodus is told.

The Passover Story

Over 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people were being kept in slavery by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Moses went to see Pharaoh many times to ask him to let the Israelites go, but Pharaoh refused. Moses told him that if he did not release them, God would make terrible things called plagues happen to the Egyptians. However, Pharaoh did not listen, and the plagues came. These ten plagues included the River Nile turning to blood, frogs covered the land, insect infestations, animals died, Egyptians got skin diseases, the sun stopped shining and the first-born child in Egyptian families was killed by an angel. God is said to have told Moses to tell the Israelites to paint lamb’s blood on their doorposts. This way, the angel would know that Jewish people lived there. It would pass over that house and not kill the first-born child. This is the meaning of the name Passover.

Stories and Traditions

Passover is a very important holiday to the Jewish people. Personal stories and traditions are part of the holiday spirit and its celebration. Two are shared from our IJSS congregants.

One of our member’s birthdays is April 1, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day. The year she was born it was the first night of Passover. Her father didn’t believe her mother when she called to tell him of their child’s birth. He thought ‘April Fool’s’.

The father of one of our members observed Passover in three concentration camps. Among the men in the barracks was a rabbi, who planned to celebrate Passover. They knew if they were caught, death would be their punishment. The plan took hold. A bakery worker carried flour in his pant cuffs to the barracks. A munitions worker got some paraffin. Another found string and matches and another a small piece of metal to use as a plate. A candle was made from paraffin and the string was the wick. Some men were guards to warn if the SS was coming. On the night of Passover Rabbi Gottschalk mixed the flour with water, created dough and flattened it on the metal plate. The candle was held under the plate and heated the dough making matzah (unleavened bread). The Rabbi said the blessings and shared tiny pieces of matzah with all of the men. This story is shared at the seder table with her family from her generation to her children and to their children. May the story continue to be told.

Happy Passover everyone!