Most Jewish people celebrate Passover, starting at sundown tonight, at home. But a Margate and a Ventnor synagogue are hosting Community Seders for those who don’t have family to share it with or who wanted to try something different.

Chabad at the Shore hosts a Community Seder at 7:15 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Chai Center, 6605 Atlantic Ave., Ventnor.

Beth El Synagogue and Shirat Hayam, a combination of the conservative Beth Judad and reform Emeth Shalom, will celebrate the first night of Passover with a Community Seder with Cantor Ralph Goren with a service at 6:30 Monday at Shirat Hayam, 700 N. Swarthmore Ave. in Ventnor.

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The eight-day holiday celebrates the Hebrews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt.

Observant Jews refrain from eating anything made with leavening. Bread, oats, wheat and other grains are forbidden. An unleavened bread, called matzo, is eaten instead. The unleavened bread is a symbol of Passover.

As the story goes, Jews fleeing from Egypt left so quickly they did not have time to wait for their bread to rise.

The holiday begins Monday with the Seder, a ritual feast. Days of cleaning, food preparation and shopping prepare the home or synagogue for the creation of kosher meals.

According to a Haggadah, a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder provided to The Press by Rabbi Gordon Geller of Shirat Hayam, a Seder plate includes roasted shankbone of lamb, a roasted egg and Chazeret —fresh horseradish (or romaine lettuce).

Preparations for Chabad At The Shore’s Community Seder started two weeks ago, when all the leavened bread — including pasta, cakes and noodles — had to be segregated, said Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport of Chabad at the Shore, which is located in Margate.

The synagogue usually has a lunch on Saturdays, so the April 8 lunch was kosher. Members were asked not to bring any food, Rapoport said.

This is the second time Chabad At The Shore has hosted a Community Seder. About 150 people are expected to attend, Rapoport said.

The Community Seder will feature special handmade round matzo, Rapoport said. The wheat is watched from the time of harvesting until the final baking to ensure that no water, heat, or other natural processes cause it to begin fermentation.

Casel’s Marketplace in Margate, Acme and ShopRite all have large selections for preparing for Passover, but Rapoport said he drove to Lakewood, where there is a larger Jewish community, to buy some of the items that were needed.

The joint Beth El and Shirat Hayam Community Seder starts 7 p.m. after the brief 6:30 p.m. service, Geller said. His synagogue will follow the more traditional laws of Passover, he said.

There are 14 steps or scene to a Passover Seder, Geller said. They are:

1. Recite the Kiddush, a ceremony of prayer and blessing ushering a holy day.

2. Wash the hands.

3. Eat a green vegetable.

4. Break the middle matzo and hide half of it for the Afikoman, to be eaten as dessert after the Seder meal.

5. Retell the story of the Passover.

6. Conduct a ceremonial washing of the hands before the meal.

7. Perform a blessing over the matzah.

8. Eat the bitter herbs.

9. Eat a bitter herb and a piece of matzo together.

10. Eat the meal.

11. Eat dessert, and search for, find and eat the Afikoman

12. Grace after meals’ prayer.

13. Praise, Hallel and Psalms.

14. Acceptance and then the conclusion.

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Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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