Columbiana Culture Club celebrates Passover Seder meal

Published 1:56 pm Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Seder meal is the traditional beginning of Passover, a Jewish holiday observed each year for seven days.

Passover is a time of reflection, prayer and gratitude for freedom, peace and the passing of Jewish history from one generation to the next through symbolic ceremonies. This year Passover began at sundown on April 8.

Olivia Kalin, a member of Temple Emanuel in Birmingham, led her fellow Columbiana Culture Club members in a traditional Seder meal at their March meeting, assisted by club member Mary McNeillie. Kalin began the meal by placing a Kippa on her head, the head covering for the Seder or prayer in the synagogue.

The table setting included a copy of the Hagadah, which tells the Exodus story of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom, and contains the rituals and responses for the Seder. An extra place was set at the table for the Prophet Elijah, whose presence signals the beginning of the Messianic age. There were four pitchers of wine (grape juice at this meeting) symbolizing God’s four promises to the Jews during their exile.

Candles were lit, followed by a blessing used by the Jews for more than 2,000 years. Kalin washed her hands to separate the secular from the religious service to follow. Then parsley was passed, after being dipped into salt water, as a reminder of the tears shed by enslaved ancestors. A second cup of wine was poured to symbolize intellectual freedom from closed minds that lead to misunderstanding and human suffering.

The next section of the Hagadah contained the story of how the Lord led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, using symbolic food on the Seder plate. The shank bone reminds the Jews of the lamb, which their people sacrificed to God the night they left Egypt.

The Matzah is unleavened bread symbolizing dough that did not have time to rise. The bitter Maror reminds of the bitterness of slavery. The Charoset represents the mortar the Israelite slaves were forced to make for their taskmasters. And last, the hard–boiled egg has two meanings; the festival sacrifice when the temple stood in Jerusalem and the circle of life and death.

Club members Betty Broome, Judy Quick and Karen Sweeney sang Oseh Shalom to conclude the spiritual service.