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Jewish synagogues celebrate Passover

Posted: April 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Most women tend to the cooking and preparations needed to make things just right for the holiday. Here they focus on the ritual and meaning at The Women's Seder.

Wendy Hersh admits, one of the best things about having a Women’s Seder is being able to observe and truly enjoy the Passover holiday.

“As women we are usually cooking, serving and cleaning,” she said. “We never just sit and enjoy the event.”

During the Jewish Women’s Community Seder, a tradition which women from both Congregation Beth Shalom and Temple Beth Ami have observed for the last 12 years, attendees are able to sit and enjoy the meal, relax and bond with other women.

The Women’s Seder grew from that very sentiment. Most women tend to the cooking and preparations needed to make things just right for the holiday, in doing so, they are unable to fully focus on the ritual and meaning of the meal.

The women’s only event was held April 6 this year and was open to all women from the community, not only Jewish women.

In past years, prominent members of the community have attended, religious figures from other churches and groups, along with people from the community who are simply interested in the tradition and ritual of a traditional seder.

Eileen Mann, member of Congregation Beth Shalom and Sisterhood president has been attending for nearly ten years and helped plan the event this year. She says the event also offers women a time to focus on important women in Jewish history and things they have accomplished, while cultivating a feeling of community.

“It really creates a feeling of sisterhood,” said Mann. “It’s very nice to celebrate a spiritual event with other women without the obligations of husbands, children and family.”

Local Seders

The Women’s Passover Seder is held before the start of Passover each year. It offers a preview for the many Jewish Passover events held around the Santa Clarita Valley. The Passover holiday begins April 14 and lasts through April 22.

Congregation Beth Shalom hosts a community seder every year which is open to the public. This year held on the second night of Passover, Tuesday, April 15 at 6 p.m.

The Community Seder held at Chabad of SCV is also open to the community and will take place April 14 at 7:30 p.m. Attendees are welcomed to experience the tradition and ritual.

Temple Beth Ami is also hosting a community seder at Valencia United Methodist on April 15.

While the free event has already reached capacity, many people outside of the Jewish community will attend. The event is held as a community outreach to bring people together.

“Our goal is to make sure everybody can celebrate the holiday,” said Rabbi Blazer of Temple Beth Ami. “This really links the community together.”

Jews often focus on the theme of freedom as they remember the liberation of the Israelites and the many traditions of Passover, including tasting bitter herbs, eating unleavened bread and the four questions.

Blazer explained the many dietary restrictions observed during Passover also offers a reminder to be aware of what we put in our bodies everyday. He says focusing on dietary decisions for one week can help inform how to make conscious decisions for the entire year.

The holiday, while bringing many people in the community together, also reminds people of renewal and new beginnings.

“We use this season as a time to grow spiritually and emotionally,” said Blazer. “Hope allows us to get beyond things we may have become enslaved to. We have the ability to take on new challenges and grow.”



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