Remembering the Passover with the Seder Supper

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passover celebrates the liberation of Israel from Egyptian slavery, the national birthday of the Jewish people. It takes place on the 14th day of the Hebrew calendar month of Nissan, also the first day of spring.

The Passover Seder, the central ceremony of the holiday, was observed Sunday evening in Parker Hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with Barbara Leet and members of the Episcopal Church Women as hostesses for the Seder Supper.

Ronnie Leet led the religious service from The Haggadah of Passover.

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During the eight days of Passover, Jewish law prohibits eating any products which are leavened (made with yeast). Therefore, matzah is eaten in memory of the time when their ancestors fled from Egypt with no time to wait for their bread to rise.

The Passover meal ceremonial opened with the chanting of the Kiddush, proclaiming the holiness of the festival and continued throughout the service with Leet leading and guiding those present. The four questions, always asked by a child, and known as Mah Nishtannah, were asked by Ford Chittom, who is 7.

Leet continued the service through completion in A Crescendo Litany of Grace in which those present for the Seder responded to each of the 15 Marks of Grace by saying “DAYYE’NU” which means “We would have thought it enough.”

After the service, a traditional supper was served, with the menu following Passover custom. White-clothed round tables, each seating eight of the almost 70 people present, were centered with a floral circled candle. Matzahs and a Passover Seder plate were on each table, bringing to those present the reality of the story in the main food symbols.

On the Seder Plate: Beitzah, the hardboiled egg, a symbol representing new life and hope that the Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt.

Charoseth: a mixture of ground apples, nuts and red wine in reminder of the clay and mortar the Jews used to make bricks in Egypt. The red wine symbolizes the blood of the Jews which was used if enough mortar was not made. The apple represents the apple orchards where Jewish women gave birth to save their babies from the Egyptians. The nuts symbolize hope for the speediness of their redemption.

Maror: These bitter herbs are representative of the bitterness which the Jews suffered as slaves to the Egyptians.

Z’roah: This shankbone is a symbol for the Passover lamb used as a sacrifice in the days of the Temple. Because the shankbone is the arm portion of the animal, it is a reminder that God took the Jews out of Egypt with “an outstretched arm.”

Karpas: A simple vegetable usually represented by celery, parsley, radishes or boiled potatoes.

It is a reminder of the simple vegetables eaten by the Jewish slaves in Egypt. The Karpas is dipped into salt water before it is eaten as a reminder of the tears shed in Egypt.

Members of the Episcopal Church Women served the meal after Grace, known as The Afikoman, was said. The menu was gefilte fish, matzo ball chicken soup, green bean casseroles, two different recipes, and for dessert, a single macaroon cookie.