Passover marks time to celebrate faith, history
MANCHESTER — The Jewish festival of Passover begins at sundown tonight, when followers of the faith celebrate the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.
Traditions and rituals observed for thousands of years begin with the Seder dinner, a celebration of traditional and symbolic foods, including the unleavened bread the Israelites took with them during the Exodus. There was no time to allow the dough to rise, leading to the flat matzah bread that is still served to commemorate the hurried flight away from Egypt and enslavement.
"It's one of the major Jewish holidays," said Rabbi Beth Davidson of Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester. "What makes it different from some of the other major holidays is it is a home ritual. In addition to the religious observance it becomes a celebration with family and friends."
It's a celebration of the faith's history, but not a wild party."Passover is about celebrating the Exodus from Egypt and spring," Davidson said.Rabbi Levi Krinsky of Manchester-based Chabad Lubavitch of New Hampshire said true matzah must be prepared with specific ingredients, including water from a well to mix with the flour. Yeast or any leavening agent is not allowed in any form, according the website www.chabad.org. That means no traces of grains such as wheat, barley or oats are allowed during Passover, which traditionally lasts eight days.
Krinsky said the sacrifices are reminders of what the Israelites endured during the trek to Mount Sinai. He thought earlier this month to use the unchanged history of matzah as learning tool.
Children were invited to not only observe the process, but take part in it and gain a better appreciation for the meaning behind matzah more than what is or isn't in it.
"It's a simple, plain and humble bread," Krinsky said.
Krinsky said Seders in New Hampshire this spring will have access to a wider selection of kosher wines, which he noticed a few months ago were scarce or pricey in state liquor outlets.
Krinsky said after a few phone calls, the state agreed there was a potential market and coordinated with distributors from other states in time to add more vintages in state liquor stores in time for the holiday.