Seder filled with symbolism

DeKALB — Congregation Beth Shalom in DeKalb, serving DeKalb and Kane counties, will mark the holiday of Passover with a Seder on March 26, open to congregation members and their guests. The Seder will be conducted by congregation member Avi Bass, assisted by Harvey Blau, the director of the congregation’s choir, Koleynu.

Passover is one of the best-known Jewish holidays. It is one of the major festivals considered significant both agriculturally and historically. Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel. Historically, it is related to the Exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery, as told in the Book of Exodus. Passover lasts for eight days.

The name “Passover” comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, which is based on the root “pass over.” This refers to God's "passing over" of the houses of Jews when he was slaying the firstborns of the Egyptians during the last of the 10 plagues.

Among the most important Passover observances is the removal of all leavened bread from homes and property. This is anything made from wheat, rye, barley, oats or spelt. Some Jews also do not eat rice, corn, peanuts or legumes. The removal of leavened bread is symbolic of Jews' hurried flight from Egypt, when they had no time to let their bread rise. Homes are cleaned thoroughly to remove all traces of leavened bread, and many Jews do not use utensils previously used to cook leavened bread products. In place of these products, Jews eat matzoh, unleavened bread made from just flour and water and cooked quickly.

On the first two nights of Passover, Jews have a special family or community meal called a Seder. “Seder” is a Hebrew root word meaning “order.” There is a specific order to the meal and specific information that must be covered while telling the story of the Exodus. The text of the Seder is written in a book called the Haggadah. It tells exactly which prayers, stories, songs and rituals are to be followed during the meal.

A number of special foods are eaten during the Seder. In addition to matzoh, they include charoseth – a mixture, often of apples, nuts and wine – to remind Jews of the mortar used by their ancestors when they were slaves in Egypt; bitter herbs, usually horseradish, to remind Jews of the bitterness of slavery; and a vegetable, usually parsley, that is dipped in salt water to remind Jews of the tears shed during the years of slavery.

Celebrating the 'Jewishness of Jesus'

DeKALB – What do the Jewish Passover and the Last Supper have in common? Mike Fountain of Light of Messiah Ministries in Atlanta, Ga., will answer that question as he presents “Jesus in the Passover” at Evangelical-Free Church of Sycamore and DeKalb at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26.

The “Jesus in the Passover” experience will bring to life the Jewish roots of faith in Jesus as well as the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Fountain will have a Passover table set with all of the traditional elements involved in the Seder meal. During the presentation, participants will see how Jewish people celebrate Passover today, how the symbolic foods of Passover picture God’s redemption and how Jesus is foreshadowed in the Passover celebration and story.  “Jesus in the Passover” will bring new insights into the Jewishness of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

This is an event for the whole family and will also involve sharing a meal. To reserve tickets or for more information, contact the church office at 815-756-8729.

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