By Elvia Malagon
Published by The Times of Northwest Indiana – April 14, 2014
People across Northwest Indiana began observing Passover on Monday night.
Passover is a weeklong holiday where the Jewish community reflects on its ancestors, who about 3,200 years ago left Egypt for Israel after being enslaved.
Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov said the Chabad of Northwest Indiana was hosting a community Seder Monday night to start Passover.
“The message of Passover is freedom and liberty,” Zalmanov said. “It’s the ability to practice our religion in a free and open matter.”
Rabbi Mordechai Levin, of the Congregation Beth Israel, said by email that the synagogue is having daily religious services during Passover. The services include singing and reading passages from the Hebrew Bible about the exodus from slavery in Egypt.
Levin said one of the holiday traditions include a dinner called Seder during the first and second nights of Passover. During the week, the community doesn’t eat anything with leaven because their ancestors did not have time to let their bread rise when they fled Egypt.
During Seder, Levin said the community eats matzah, maror and haroset. Maror is an herb that symbolizes the bitterness of slavery and haroset is a mixture of fruits and nuts to represent what their ancestors used to construct buildings in Egypt.
In the wake of shootings at Jewish community centers in Kansas City, Levin said a prayer was said for the shooting victims Monday. Zalmanov said he is encouraging the Jewish community to stay vigilant and keep an eye on any suspicious activity.
“We are encouraging everyone to stay strong and keep the faith,” he said.