By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Members of the Temple of B’Nai Israel gathered Tuesday night at the Tupelo Country Club to celebrate one of the greatest occasions in Jewish history: the liberation of their people from Egypt.
Leader of the service, Marc Perler said the holiday actually began Monday night, but custom dictates Jews spend the actual night of Passover with their individual families.
In the Exodus story, the 10th plague was sent to claim the lives of Egypt’s first–born children. Jews were instructed to stay in their homes and mark their doorway with lamb’s blood so the plague would pass over their houses.
Likewise, the tradition recalls this Biblical moment, which, for Jews, brings mixed emotions.
“Both sides suffered. Jews from their bondage and the oppressors from the plagues,” Perler said. “Our freedom came at such a high price, and our celebration is tempered by both sufferings.”
The second night of Passover brings Jewish families together as a community.
To commemorate the pain of Jews and Egyptians, the some 50 Temple B’Nai members removed one spoonful of wine with each mention of a plague, as they recounted the Exodus story together over dinner. They broke and ate matzo, the flat bread Perler said harkens back to the Passover story.
“When Pharaoh released the Jews, they left so quickly the bread was not allowed time to rise,” he said. “For this reason, Passover is sometimes called ‘the Festival of Unleavened Bread.’”
At the conclusion of the story, the youngest able member stood and ask customary questions that detail the importance of their ritual. The rest of the members answered in call-and-response fashion.
Perler said the inculcation of these traditions in Jewish young is crucial in the continuation of the faith. That way, services may be conducted without a rabbi.
He said even though Christians refer to the Torah as the Old Testament, the past is not so distant for Jews.
“The Torah is the history of creation, of mankind. It sets the groundwork for who we are, who we will become,” he said. “The Passover story represents our daily liberation, and our obligation to God to be a light unto nations.”