Beth Hillel Temple will debut a new Haggadah at this year’s Community Passover Seder on Saturday, April 20, at 6 p.m.

The Haggadah is the book that guides participants through the telling of an excerpted version of the story of the exodus from Egypt and guides the Seder ritual, found in the first 15 chapters of the Book of Exodus. But there is much more to the Seder than sitting together and reading the story. Songs are sung, questions are asked, rituals are performed, and, perhaps most importantly, symbolic foods are eaten.

While the basic outline and the structure of the Seder is fairly uniform in all Haggadahs, there are a plethora of Haggadahs, each unique in its own way. The new Haggadah that Beth Hillel will inaugurate this year, “Sharing the Journey”, is a publication of the Reform movement within Judaism, of which Beth Hillel Temple is a member.

The central food of Passover is matzah, unleavened bread, which Exodus 12 commands Jews to eat for the entire week of Passover. Jews are further commanded to refrain from eating any food with leavening, and to remove leavening and grains completely from their households.

The Bible tells that the Israelites escaping from Egypt did not have time, in their haste, to let their dough rise. Instead, they baked flat cakes – matzah. To commemorate the Exodus and to be reminded of the oppression and slavery in Egypt, matzah is eaten the entire week. In the Hagaddah, matzah is called “the bread of affliction.”

Matzah is made of just two ingredients: flour and water. Only 18 minutes may transpire between the time of mixing the dough to taking it out of the oven. If the process is not completed in 18 minutes, it is not “kosher” matzah. Most Jews buy matzah that is commercially prepared for the holiday each year. For Jews in Kenosha, shopping for matzah and other items needed for Passover requires some advance planning.

The matzah found all year on the shelves in the “ethnic food” aisles at the local grocery stores is not “kosher for Passover.” Most local Jews travel to the Chicago or Milwaukee stores that stock Passover supplies in the weeks preceding Passover.

While the holiday will begin this year on Friday night, April 19, with Seders in people’s homes, Beth Hillel will observe Passover with a Community Passover Seder on April 20. Reservations in advance are required for the Seder.

In addition, Passover/Sabbath services will be held on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m., and on the last day of the holiday, April 26, Passover/Yizkor (memorial) services will be held at 10:30 a.m. After each of the services, the traditional foods will be served, and the public is invited to attend the services and receptions.

For more information, call Beth Hillel Temple at 262-654-2716.

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