The name “Passover” derives from Moses’ promise that God would “pass over” the homes of Israelites on the evening when firstborn Egyptians were to be slain (Exodus 12:23). Reform Jews celebrate Passover for seven days.
One of the major elements of Passover is the seder (meaning “order”), a ritual dinner with a prescribed order of prayers, readings and songs that are found in a special book called the Haggadah. Another of the major traditions during Passover is a prohibition against eating chameitz, leavened foods made of wheat, oats, barley, rye and spelt (as well as rice, corn, peas, beans and peanuts in the Ashkenazic tradition). In place of chameitz, Jews are commanded to eat matzah during Passover — an unleavened product of the five grains — which serves as both a reminder of the haste in which the Jews left Egypt (having no time to bake leavened bread) and as a symbol of oppression because it was the food eaten by Jewish slaves.
The Conclusion of Passover is one of the four times of year when our community mourns together through the recitation of the memorial prayers in remembrance of those whom we have loved and lost. Temple Emanu-El also offers Second Seder for the Elderly, one of the longest-running community service programs offered by Temple Emanu-El, staffed by dedicated congregants who volunteer their time to help make this evening possible.