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Celebrating Passover In White Plains

Matzoh bread is a quickly cooked thin bread that represents the haste with which the ancient Israelites left Egypt.
Matzoh bread is a quickly cooked thin bread that represents the haste with which the ancient Israelites left Egypt. Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Westchester Jewish Center

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Jewish residents around White Plains are preparing to break out the matzoh, Manischewitz and gefilte fish on Monday, when Passover begins at sundown.

Passover will last eight days, ending April 2 as Jews celebrate the Exodus of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt, a story passed down among family and friends by reading from the Haggadah.

“We have to remember our humble beginnings,” said Rabbi Schmuel Greenberg of Young Israel of White Plains. “We have to realize that it’s not just received, we’ve struggled and worked hard. It is a reminder that we should appreciate what we have, especially in the U.S."

The holiday is centered on the theme of redemption. God not only freed the Israelites from their bondage but also brought them to Mount Sinai to receive the gift of the Torah, Greenberg said.

During Passover, the list of banned food is extensive. But on the approved list is matzoh, a quickly cooked bread that doesn't rise as dough, which only poor men would eat, he said. It also symbolizes the haste with which the Israelites had to leave Egypt, Greenberg said. Jews also eat maror, a bitter herb that symbolizes the bitterness of slavery, and dip green vegetables in saltwater, representing the tears shed by the Israelites during their enslavement.

“We remind ourselves how awful life once was, so that we'll always be sensitive to making it better for those who are suffering in our own day,” said Rabbi Billy Dreskin, of Woodlands Community Temple. His temple will hold Passover Learning  from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Young Israel of White Plains will hold special holiday services Monday and Tuesday at sundown, at about 7:15 p.m., and Tuesday morning at about 9 a.m.

Bet Am Shalom Synagogue will hold a holiday service Tuesday at 9:45 a.m., which will include a Hallel, the Exodus story Torah reading, a short d'rash by the rabbi and the stirring "Tefillat Tal," the prayer for dew that marks the onset of spring in the Jewish calendar.

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