Local residents celebrate traditional Passover

By Thad Williams

This time of spring is usually associated with holidays such as Good Friday and Easter, but another religious holiday that holds a lot of significance is Passover.

Passover is a traditional Jewish holiday celebrated to commemorate their heritage and identity, as well as to remember the Exodus of the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt. The holiday is named after the final plague that was sent on Egypt when the angel of death passed over houses that the Israelites marked with lamb’s blood.

The celebration of Passover follows the Hebrew calendar, so while it always falls somewhere between April and May, there is no set day on traditional calendars that it occurs. This year it happened to fall on Good Friday, April 15.

Regarded as one of the most culturally significant Jewish holidays, Passover is a weeklong celebration that involves many meticulously symbolic ceremonies. Most notably, people observing Passover week will abstain from eating any kind of bread that has a rising agent and practice a ceremony called Seder the first two nights.

Austin Goldstein is a senior at Louisiana Tech and comes from a family of traditional Jewish heritage. This past weekend, Goldstein hosted a Seder ceremony with some of his friends to introduce them to this important part of his culture.

“A big thing at Passover is that you are supposed to invite people who aren’t Jewish,” Goldstein said. “It’s to show them this is who I am and what our culture is about.”

The Seder ceremony is broken down into many distinct steps and activities, and every part of it has symbolic meanings relating to the story of the Exodus or the Jewish culture as a whole. With the head of the family hosting the ceremony, they lead everyone in attendance through the ceremony where they partake in reciting Hebrew prayers and songs, reading through scripture, and eating specific foods to help simulate the suffering the Israelites went through in slavery.

For most people of the Jewish culture, Passover is a time for family and Jewish identity. For more religious Jewish people, the ceremony is also a time to reflect on all that God has done for their people, Goldstein said.

The ceremony is also crafted to allow for everyone to be able to participate, whether they be young children or people from a different culture altogether. Passover is considered to be a time to share Jewish heritage with others.

“A lot of people who aren’t Jewish… have a lot of misinterpretations of what Passover is so they don’t really know why Jewish people celebrate it,” Goldstein said. “It would be nice if [they] were more aware of how significant, how important this is to Jewish people.”

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