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Jews mark Passover’s start: ‘Why is this night different?’

By Tim Funk
tfunk@charlotteobserver.com

Jewish families in Charlotte and beyond gathered around dinner tables after sundown Monday to mark the start of Passover, which commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

The eight-day holiday – also called Pesach, its Hebrew name – traditionally begins with Seders, or ritualized meals featuring special foods and the reading of the Haggadah, a compilation of biblical passages and prayers.

Its most famous line, usually recited by the youngest person at the table, is: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The story of the Exodus, with leader Moses following God’s direction, is retold, as the family lights candles, blesses wine, and eats unleavened bread, or matzah.

“In the Book of Exodus, it says to gather your household,” says Rabbi Murray Ezring of Charlotte’s Temple Israel, a Conservative Jewish congregation, shown above and at right at his family’s Seder on Monday night. “And Passover celebrates freedom, which can’t really be appreciated alone. So those who are free gather together to thank God for the gift of that freedom.”

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