TUPELO – Temple B’Nai Israel gathered at Park Heights on Tuesday night to celebrate Passover with a community seder, and recount the Exodus story of the Jewish people’s escape from their bondage in Egypt.
Temple B’Nai’s Marc Perler led the group of 48 through the readings and rituals of the Passover, meant to give attendees the feeling that they personally made the journey.
“Exodus says to tell your child on that day to remind them of their blessings,” Perler told the congregants. “It’s more than a historical or biblical story. It’s a reminder of the value and price of religious and physical freedom. It’s a reminder that there are people still in bondage, waiting for their Moses. It is a reminder to be thankful.”
The Exodus narrative is one that “begins with degradation” but through its telling, “ends with glory.” Moses, Perler said, was a common man asked to do uncommon things by bringing forth the 10 plagues, the final plague being the death of firstborn Egyptian sons. God passed over doors of Jews marked with lamb’s blood.
With this plague, Pharaoh released the Jews, who left before even allowing their bread – matzo – to rise.
In remembrance of these events, Jews partake in eating lamb and matzo throughout the eight days of Passover. During the seder, they also consumed bitter herbs to remind them of their ancestors’ bitter life under the Egyptians. They pour out wine to acknowledge the Egyptians who suffered from the plagues, their human pain.
B’Nai Israel member Jane Litke, who organized the event, attended with her family. She said though Passover started on Monday, a community seder is typically held on the second night of Passover.
“The first night is usually celebrated with close family,” she said. “Then you come together with your extended family on the second night, your community.”
For some, like B’Nai Israel member Jack Cristil, eating so much matzo can be a plague of its own. He said it takes far fewer than eight days to tire of it.
“Try about eight hours,” he said. “It’s not something you’d typically eat every day.”
“Then again, that’s the whole point,” he said. “It was not always easy for them. The theme of Passover isn’t only freedom, but the responsibility that comes with that freedom.”