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Cook County Jewish Community Celebrates Passover

Mar 29, 2018 06:28AM ● Published by Editor

A group of celebrants joined together to observe the Passover Seder last week in Grand Marais.  (Photos:  Janice & Anna Latz)

The Cook County Jewish Community celebrated the Passover holiday recently at the First Congregational Church in Grand Marais. 

Passover is the Jewish holiday celebrating the liberation and exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt.  This biblical holiday appears in the Old Testament and includes the familiar stories of:  Moses & Pharaoh, the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the receiving of the 10 Commandments, 40 years of wandering in the desert, and finally, the Hebrews becoming a people in their own land.  

The name Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) comes from the 10th plague, when the Angel of Death “passed over” the land of Egypt, smiting the firstborn male of each household.  The Hebrew slaves were spared from this plague because Moses instructed them to place a sign on their doors which identified and protected them.   

Passover lasts for 8 days and nights.  On the first night, a traditional meal called the Seder is held.  The Passover story is retold in great detail, using a book called the Haggada or “the telling”.  Guests eat symbolic foods like Matzah (unleavened bread) to remind them of the exodus.  The Seder is for young and old.  Even though the original Passover occurred over 3000 years ago, the language used in telling the story is in the present tense, as though the celebrants themselves were part of it.  This resonates today because even now our world has its share of Pharaohs, slavery and refugees.    In Christianity, the Last Supper was a Seder.  

 A Seder plate

The timing of Passover and Easter are loosely connected.   Passover always falls on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Hebrew lunar calendar.  That date is always a full moon. It can fall on any day of the week.   Easter in the Western Christian tradition follows the Gregorian solar calendar.  The date is calculated from the spring equinox (March 21), followed by the first full moon, followed by the first Sunday.  Usually that first full moon is the same as the Jewish Passover.   In that case, Easter follows Passover closely, as it does this year.   However, lunar calendars regularly add leap months in order to keep synchronized with the seasons.   In those years, the dates for Easter and Passover can be wildly different.  

The small and vibrant Jewish community of Cook County meets regularly to celebrate key Jewish holidays and traditions.  They also maintain cordial relations with Temple Israel in Duluth and Congregation Shaarey Shomayim in Thunder Bay.  

For more information contact Gary Latz at 832-364-0310 or gary.bohlkeco@oplink.net

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