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Local Rabbis Touch on Significance of Passover

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – The Jewish holiday of Passover begins on Friday and local residents will be celebrating the longstanding tradition in a variety of ways.

“It marks the beginning of the Jewish people, it marks the celebration of freedom from slavery in Egypt,” said Rabbi Barry Kenter of the Greenburgh Hebrew Center.  “It is a time for sharing the story of the Exodus and seeing ourselves as part of it in the past and then how we understand it in the present and now we move forward to the future.”

A celebratory dinner known as Seder will be held in many homes with specialty foods such as matzo, but the Chabad of the Rivertowns will host its own feast.

“Many families have their own Seder in their house with their family, but there are many who might not have family locally, they might not be able to afford it, they might want to do it with the community so we host the community Seder,” said Rabbi Benjy Silverman of Chabad of the Rivertowns.

Tickets for the community Seder are $54 for adults and $15 for children, but Silverman said no one will be turned away due to a lack of funds.

Kenter said that while there will be services offered over the weekend, many local residents elect to celebrate the first night of Passover at home.   

“While we will have services at the synagogue on Saturday morning and Sunday morning, this is a home celebration,” he said.  “So the Seder, the meal and the sharing of the story by the reading of Haggadah all takes place at home.”

With matzo being one of the most popular items of food during Passover, Silverman explained the significance behind the flat bread.

“The reason we have the matzo is the Jewish people when they were leaving Egypt three and a half thousand years ago they were eating this matzo, it’s a poor man’s bread,” he said.  “We eat this to remember the slavery of our ancestors, but we also try to remember we’re blessed and our lives are comfortable.  There are people who still are suffering and still experiencing their own personal slavery and we have to do what we can to help them.”

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