Rabbi plans service to explain Passover rituals

March 25, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

Newly married Jewish couples who aren't sure what foods to serve at a Seder or Jews recently returned to their faith who have forgotten some of the Passover rituals can get some help tonight from Rabbi Herbert Kumin.

At a pre-Passover service, the Calah Congregation's rabbi will explain the history of Passover, its importance, rituals and impact on Jews.

He will also show a 30-minute film called "A Seder at My Grandmother's Home," in an attempt to better acquaint Jews and non-Jews with details of the annual observance.

During Passover, Jewish families hold a meal called a Seder in their homes, featuring readings and symbolic foods.

"Having a picture is sometimes better than a thousand words," ** said Mr. Kumin, whose 5-year-old congregation includes Orthodox, Reform and Conservative Jews.

The service will be held at 8 p.m. at Owen Brown Community Center on Cradlerock Way.

Passover, or Holiday of Spring, is a week-long Jewish holiday marking the ancient Hebrews' exodus from Egypt and slavery. An estimated 14 million Jews around the world are expected to observe Passover beginning at sundown tomorrow, including about 8,500 in Howard County.

"It renews your hope, like after a bitter winter," Mr. Kumin said of Passover.

The program tonight is aimed at married Jewish couples holding a Seder for the first time, other Jews and even non-Jews interested in learning about Passover, the rabbi said.

Mr. Kumin said that "a good percentage" of those in the Jewish community could benefit from tonight's program, saying that many have strayed from their faith for various reasons.

pTC During a Seder, three matzos, or pieces of flat, thin unleavened bread, are eaten to symbolize the Hebrews' hasty departure from Egypt, which left no time for their bread to rise.

Horseradish and other bitter herbs are eaten to symbolize the Hebrews' hardships in Egypt. Salt water is present to symbolize their crossing of the Red Sea and their tears shed in bondage. Other foods eaten are a roasted egg, greens, a lamb shank bone and haroseth -- chopped apples, nuts and wine. Each participant meal also drinks from four cups of wine.

The meal is accompanied by readings from the Haggada, or Passover liturgy, containing songs and the story of the Hebrews' exodus from Egypt.

Passover is more than a commemoration, it's a celebration, stress those in the Jewish community.

"Passover is not celebrating something that happened many, many years ago, but feeling and acting as if you yourself, came out of Egypt -- not in a physical way, but a spiritual way," said Rabbi Hillel M. Baron of the Orthodox Lubavitch Center for Jewish Studies on Rodona Drive.

He will host a communal Seder at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at his home for those who don't have families and relatives to share Passover.

Rabbi Kenneth L. Cohen of Beth Shalom Conservative Congregation said Passover is the holiday that most Jews observe.

"People who don't otherwise practice their Judaism find their identity around Passover time," he said. "It's a celebration of freedom, which is . . . significant to everyone, Jew and non-Jew alike."

For more information on Passover, Mr. Kumin recommended reading the story of Passover in the Bible and in "The Passover Anthology," edited by Philip Goodman.

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