Passover Seder

Thursday night the students and service couples met in the Oasis in celebration of the Passover Seder. The word, Seder, means "order." It suggests structure and internal meaning. A Jewish professor who teaches classes at the Jerusalem Center brought his young son and the evening was spent learning about this lovely Jewish tradition. Each person was given a book to follow and Hebrew books open from right to left pages and are read in the same order. The Seder book was about 60 pages and students took turns participating. The recitation of the Haggadah is a liturgy that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfillment of the biblical obligation to recount to Jewish children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover. The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. And, by following the rituals of Passover, Jewish families have the opportunity to relive and experience the true freedom their ancestors gained. The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast. The focal points of the Seder are: Eating matzah. Eating bitter herbs—to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites. Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice—a royal drink to celebrate new-found freedom. The men wore "kippas" (small Jewish hats) and I got to wondering if a non-Jew wearing a kippa would be offensive to Jewish people but were were told no. The professor was very excited about teaching us all about his culture and his customs and it was truly a great experience. Food represented symbols: (Clockwise) Shank bone (Paschal Lamb); Charoset (Mortar for bricks); Lettuce (Bitterness of slavery); Parsley (Renewal of Spring); Roasted Egg (Temple sacrifice); Bitter Herb (Bitterness of Slavery). There are fifteen steps in the Passover Seder, described in the Haggadah. They are often sung to a special melody at the beginning of the Seder. The food was wonderful, the evening was so educational, and it helped us to better appreciate our Jewish friends and their families.