With minds on Ukraine, Palm Coast Jewish community prepares for Passover

Many of the Palm Coast members of Chabad have deep roots in Ukraine and will be praying for the safety of family and friends.

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  • | 2:10 p.m. April 14, 2022
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by: Marylynne Newmark

As Biblical scholars know, Passover celebrates the liberation of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt under the leadership of Moses back in the 13th century BCE. This massive Exodus and the giving of law on Mount Sinai was the foundation of binding the Jewish people as a nation forever.

Here in Palm Coast, communitywide seders will be conducted on Friday evening, April 15 (the 14th of Nissan on the Hebrew calendar this year), at both Temple Beth Shalom, an inclusive egalitarian learning community with a female rabbi, as well as at Chabad, a traditionally observant open and loving congregation. Additional information is available for both online or by calling their offices.

However, preparation begins long before the holiday starts. All products that may contain yeast or gluten or anything that enables food to rise when baked (bread, cakes, cookies, etc.) must be finished or disposed of before the holiday. A more modern option is called Shtar Harshaah or Selling of the Chometz (products with leavening). This is done by contract, giving charity to places of worship as a credit to buying back carefully stored food items after the holiday. Another custom is contributing all types of food for those in need.

Homes are scrupulously cleaned up to the last minute before sundown when even corners of the kitchen are searched with a feather by observant Jews for leftover crumbs that may have been missed.

There are more meaningful messages in the Passover story that include freedom, faith, respect, understanding and helping one another to become a people united in Biblical teachings and its deeper meanings.

Rabbi Levi Ezagui of the Chabad Jewish Center of Palm Coast is part of a worldwide Judaic movement that believes in strong community outreach. By word of mouth, Ezagui has been able to identify fellow Jews in Palm Coast who may be in need of food and matzot for the holiday, and his team of volunteers deliver hundreds of boxes of Shmurah matzot directly to their homes.

Many of the Palm Coast members of Chabad have deep roots in Ukraine and will be praying for the safety of family and friends. Ukraine had the largest population of post-Holocaust Jews in all of Europe; now, many are in parts unknown. The rabbis of Ukraine have requested that Jews worldwide who are celebrating Passover seders at home set an extra chair at their tables and invite a Jew who otherwise may not have a seder to sit there in place of a Ukrainian Jew who would not be able to celebrate the holiday this year.

The seder at Chabad of Palm Coast is open to all, but space may be limited and reservations are requested (386-225-4941).

“This follows in the teaching of our beloved Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of righteous memory,” Ezagui said. “Judaism is a proud birthright of every Jewish soul regardless of affiliation, and he or she is always welcome.”

Temple Beth Shalom of Palm Coast began the holiday early this past Thursday with Rabbi Rose Eberle presenting a spiritual insight into making matzot for Passover using specially guarded flour, and the different cultural preparations among Jews around the world. This was followed by members of the temple actually preparing and baking the basic flour and water “bread of affliction” for the Seder nights, and then adding seasonings and exotic flavors to enjoy matzot on the other nights.

“Making matzah with our own hands,” Eberle said, “builds a deeper appreciation of our miraculous  deliverance from bondage, but the festival of Pesach (Passover) serves to bind us, one to the other, throughout the generations. Preparing, eating and fulfilling this commandment with dedication in our hearts enriches and sustains us as a people in the service of The Holy One, blessed be he."

Space is limited for the Temple Beth Shalom seder, but feel free to call for information. To add some social fun to the holiday, Temple Beth Shalom of Palm Coast will also sponsor a Matzah Brei  & Shakshuka Breakfast on Wednesday morning, April 20 that is open to all for a small charge. Call 386-445-3006 this Friday or Monday morning for additional information.


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