The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated this year from sundown on Friday, March 30th until after nightfall on Saturday, April 7, 2018, with its highlight, the festive “Seder” dinners on the first 2 nights of the holiday. The festival of Passover commemorates the freedom of the Jewish nation from enslavement in Ancient Egypt in 1313 BCE. After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, G‑d sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message to: “Let My People Go.” When Moses’ warnings were dismissed, G‑d sent upon Egypt ten plagues, the last one being the killing of the Egyptian firstborn while “passing over” the Jewish homes—hence the name of the holiday.
To commemorate the unleavened bread that we ate when we left Egypt, we don’t eat—or even retain in our possession—any leavened grains known as chametz during the holiday. Chametz includes any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. Instead, we eat matzah—flat unleavened bread, at least for the two Seder nights, when it’s a Mitzvah (biblical commandment).
Our Rabbis explain that chametz is symbolic of haughtiness and egotism – traits so harmful that they are at the root of all negative traits. This is one of the reasons why even the most miniscule amount of chametz is forbidden – for these negative traits must be completely nullified.
Few Jewish holidays evoke the same warm sentiments as Passover. Memories of family and friends gathered as the four cups of wine are poured, the four questions asked and the Matzah served, all contribute to Passover’s popularity in the Jewish community. Bringing the warmth and tradition of this festival to every major city in the world, Chabad is inviting all residents to participate in Community Seders to be held on March 30th and 31st at locations throughout South Florida.
The Seders take participants through the wondrous liberation of our ancestors from Egyptian bondage, while sharing the relevance and beauty of the age old festival in our modern lives. Included in the Seder will be a delectable catered dinner paired with a variety of fine imported wines and handmade round ‘Shmurah’ Matzah from Israel.
Passover is not simply a celebration of the historic liberation of an ancient people. Passover is about our own personal liberation – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Passover inspires us to break free from the shackles restraining us from reaching new heights – in our lives, relationships and connection with G-d.
Chabad’s community seder is part of a global Passover campaign that began in 1954, when the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, launched the Shmurah Matzah initiative. This year, over 500,000 people will participate at Seder at over 4,000 Chabad Centers throughout the world and an estimated four million hand-baked Shmurah Matzahs will be distributed.
We encourage you to contact your local Chabad or Synagogue to join the Seder nearest you. You are of course welcome to join us at our Seder in Highland Lakes. To learn more about the holiday, order Shmura Matzah, RSVP for the seder or need help selling your Chametz, call (305) 770-1919 or visit ChabadChayil.org/passover.
About the author
Rabbi Kievman is the ambassador of The Rebbe to Highland Lakes, FL. He is founder of CHAP – an afterschool program for Jewish children in Public Schools, rabbi at The Family Shul & together with his wife directs Chabad Chayil. He can be reached at (305) 770-1919 or rabbi@ChabadChayil.org