On Monday at sundown, Jews in Charlotte and around the world marked the start of Passover, commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses.
Also called Pesach (PAY-sakh), its Hebrew name, the holiday lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days in the United States and most everywhere else.
On the first two nights of Passover, Jewish families traditionally gather for a Seder, a ritualized dinner in which the story from the book of Exodus is retold. Candles are lit, blessings are said, and special food is served, including unleavened bread (matzo), which recalls that Jews fleeing Egypt didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise.
There is also the reading of the Haggadah, a compilation of biblical passages, prayers, hymns and rabbinic literature.
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On Monday night, Ohr HaTorah, an Orthodox congregation in Charlotte, hosted a Seder for young adults at the Lubavitch Educational Center. On Tuesday night, Temple Israel, a Conservative congregation, and Temple Beth El, a Reform congregation, will each have a reservation-only community Seder.
The Seder’s most iconic line, usually recited by the youngest person at the table who is able to recite it: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The question has four answers, all relating to how the Seder symbolizes freedom to have a relaxing meal together and enjoy each others’ company.