Jewish communities across South Jersey will start the feast of Passover with a seder Friday night.

The sacred meal includes reading, drinking wine, telling stories, eating special foods and singing.

“It’s a very interactive experience,” said Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport, of the Chabad at the Shore Jewish Organization in Margate and Ventnor. “It also reminds us that there is still suffering in the world in the form of slavery and oppression.”

The meal is very particular, and all of it represents something bigger than just food on a plate.

Passover is one of the oldest traditions of the Jewish religion. The observance, which starts Friday and continues through sundown April 7, commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt after they were freed from slavery.

“It’s a time not only to celebrate the exodus, but also for people to get out of their own personal slavery and limitations,” said Rapoport.

It also has spiritual and family benefits, including the tradition of bringing the family together for a meal that could be remembered for generations.

Rapoport said the memories from one seder can span 210 years of personal experience.

“Seders are an intergenerational experience,” Rapoport said. “You have kids, parents, and grandparents all sitting together. The grandparents at one time sat with their grandparents, and the kids will one day sit with their grandchildren. Those are memories that people hold onto forever.”

Stories from the Haggadah are also read during the seder, which includes traditional readings from the Torah.

This year’s observance is unique because it starts the same weekend as Easter.

Rapoport said the reason for that has to do with the Jewish calendar.

“The Jewish calendar follows the lunar calendar, and it’s 11 days different than the solar calendar,” Rapoport said. “The timing of Passover won’t always be the same, and this year it falls at the same time as Easter.”

Contact: 609-272-7260 JDeRosier@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressDeRosier

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