As the dawn of spring is upon us we focus on new beginnings and that is what Passover is about. I observed first hand during my time in the military during Desert Storm how important new beginnings and freedom are.
So you asked how JCMI celebrates Passover. We rely on “tradition,” as quoted from the play Fiddler on the Roof.
Tradition starts with knowing that the JCMI congregation comes together on the first night of Passover to celebrate the Seder (ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover) as one big family. Not only do we celebrate with each other, but invite our friends, neighbors and relatives to join us.
Tradition continues with the food that is served during the Seder. As our beloved Rabbi Maline lights the candles and the blessing is sung by our Cantorial Soloist Hari Jacobsen, we begin an evening of symbolic meaning that brings with it the remembrance of the Jewish people being freed from slavery. One of the most symbolic food item is the matzah (unleavened bread), which is eaten not only on the evening of the Seder, but during the holiday. The symbolic meaning behind the matzah is that the Jewish people, after being freed from slavery, did not have enough time to let bread rise, as they were traveling through the Egyptian desert to the Promised Land.
The Seder continues with more tradition as we focus on the Seder plate which contains bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness of slavery, salt water that we dip the parsley into to symbolize the tears shed and the strife the Jewish people endured, charoset (sweet mixture made of chopped apples, nuts and wine) which symbolizes the mortar which the Jewish people used as cement for the bricks of the Pharaoh’s tombs, a roasted lamb bone that symbolizes a Passover sacrifice in the Temple of Jerusalem and the egg symbolizing the festival sacrifice in the Temples.
Passover tradition includes drinking from the wine cup four times expressing the deliverance promised by God, “I will bring you out, “I will deliver you,” “I will redeem you ,” and “I will take you.”
Importantly, tradition focuses on the children that attend the Seder as to why this night is different from all other nights. After the four questions are posed by the children the leader answers the questions by reading from the Haggadah (religious text that sets out the order of the Passover Seder and tells about the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery in Egypt).
I invite you to join us for our Passover Seder at 6 PM on Monday, April 18, 2011 at JCMI 991 Winterberry Dr on Marco Island and take part in this tradition of freedom and thanksgiving. For reservations and further information please call the JCMI office at (239) 642-0800 prior to April 14, 2011. Everyone is welcome to attend.