Temple Har Shalom prepares for Passover
Springtime is an important season for the Jewish community around the world. It’s the time where they celebrate Passover, said Rabbi Joshua M. Aaronson of the Temple Har Shalom.
"Passover represents physical renewal of the Earth and the rebudding of spring," Aaronson told The Park Record. "It also represents the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish people."
To celebrate, Temple Har Shalom, 3700 Brookside Ct., will host a community Passover Seder, on Tuesday, March 26, at 5:30 p.m.
The event, said Aaronson, is a great time to gather members and nonmembers in the community for a celebration.
"Passover is the festival that commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, and to some, that is really the seminal Jewish moment in history," he said. "Of course the Exodus is recounted in the Bible and the Hebrew Bible, where the wandering in the wilderness experience is recounted in the book of Exodus and the subsequent books in the Bible."
The Seder is a meal that recounts the Passover narrative through liturgy and the use of food during the evening.
"The story that is well-known in the Western world in which the Children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt and with God’s blessing, Moses went to Pharaoh and pleaded for the release of the Children of Israel from bondage to freedom," Aaronson explained. "God brought up a number of miracles to prove his great power, and ultimately, Pharaoh relented and allowed the Children of Israel to flee Egypt and go across the Red Sea into the Promised Land.
"Shortly afterwards, Pharaoh had second thoughts and sent his army, which is accounted in the Book of Exodus, and the army was ultimately caught up in the waves of the Red Sea and the Children of Israel made it to safety and wandered in the wilderness for the subsequent 40 years," Aaronson said. "That is the basic outline of the narrative, and many consider that the true birth of the Jewish people, including me."
There are two major pieces of Passover Seder — the Seder Plate and the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Passover narrative, Aaronson said.
"For example, on the Seder Plate, we have the matzoh, which is unleavened bread," he said "It represents the speed at which the Children of Israel left Egypt. They didn’t have time to properly leaven the bread, so the bread did not rise."
In addition to the Matzoh, there are horseradish roots that represent the bitterness of slavery.
"There is also something called charoset that is made of chopped apples and nuts in wine that represents the mortar that was used to build the pyramids, which the Children of Israel were involved in," Aaronson said. "And there is an egg on the Seder plate that shows that Passover is the rebirth of life."
Each of the foods is presented and eaten in a certain order.
"The word ‘seder’ itself, means order," Aaronson said. "And not only do we eat the foods and tell the narrative in a certain way, we also use wine four different times, which serve as symbolic markers in the different stages of the service."
One of the recurring themes of the seder is slavery.
"That paradigm of the transition from slavery to freedom has really become a fundamental narrative in the Western world," Aaronson said. "All people around the world are seeking freedom from slavery, whether it be true slavery as is written in the Bible, and as we knew it in this country 150 years ago."
However, slavery, however, can take on many forms.
"People can be a slave to prejudices, money, hatred and a variety of things," Aaronson said. "So, the Jews have become advocates of the idea that everyone can become free in the manner described by the narrative, which is the Passover story."
Most Jews, regardless of how observant they are, celebrate Passover somewhere.
"There is a lot of preparation that leads up to the event," he said. "Not only is there a lot of food preparation, but you’re also supposed to clean your house.
"Also, when observing Passover, there are certain foods you’re not suppose to eat and you need to dispose of all those foods to get them out of the house," Aaronson said. "Most of the foods you need to throw away have wheat in them, and that preparation leads up to our celebration at the seder."
The Temple Har Shalom will host a community Passover Seder on Tuesday, March 26, at 5:30 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit http://www.templeharshalom.com.
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