JEWISH TRADITION: 8-day festival of Passover begins April 3
Chabad of the Emerald Coast plans to distribute hundreds of handmade Shmurah Matzah this year to help the Emerald Coast Jews participate in the upcoming Passover holiday. The Matzahs will be distributed to all the Jewish families or individuals who have requested it. All other Jewish organizations, families or individuals can request it at chabademeraldcoast.org or call 850-368-8387.
Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt in 1313 BCE. Directed by G-d to leave Egypt hastily, the people of Israel could not wait for their dough to rise, and thus ate unleavened crackers called “Matzah.”
Round, kneaded and shaped by hand, present day “Shmurah” Matzahs (literally watched Matzahs) are similar to those eaten by the Jews when leaving Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. From the moment the wheat is harvested, the ingredients are carefully watched to ensure that they do not become leavened, which would be prohibited on Passover.
The local effort is part of a global Passover campaign that began in 1954, when the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory, considered the most influential rabbi in modern history, launched the Shmurah Matzah initiative in an effort to create awareness and promote observance of the holiday. This year an estimated four million handbaked Shmurah Matzahs will be distributed by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. In addition, millions of Passover guides in 17 languages will educate people on the meaning and practices of the holiday.
The Rebbe taught that no solitary Jewish person ought to be left out. Every Jew, regardless of their background, affiliation or even location, should have access to the provisions they need to celebrate Passover.
Chabad of the Emerald Coast has also set up a website, www.chabademeraldcoast.org/passover, where additional Shmurah Matzah can be obtained. These and other site features, such as a menu planner, house cleaning checklist and Seder “how-to” guide, will help to ease Passover preparations, while the site’s fun and educational activities, such as the interactive seder plate, keep the kids busy.
The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated this year from sundown on Friday, April 3, until after nightfall on Saturday, April 11. Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and will be celebrated with festive Seder dinners on April 3 and 4. Other holiday observances include restricting the consumption of leavened products such as bread and pasta, instead eating unleavened matzah.
Chabad of the Emerald Coast offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For more information, call 850-424-3304, email email@example.com or visit www.chabademeraldcoast.org.
Shaya (Shayke) Tenenboim is the Rabbi at Chabad of the Emerald Coast in Destin.