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Weston Families Celebrate Passover

On this date in 1225 B.C.E., the Israelites were freed from enslavement by an Egyptian leader — just as Egyptians recently were liberated from the oppression of their modern-day Pharaoh.

Monday night marks the beginning of Passover — an eight-day celebration in the Jewish religion. The holiday commemorates the liberation of Israelites from slavery in Egypt. According to the Biblical book of Exodus, God freed the Jewish slaves by inflicting 10 plagues on Egypt and the Pharaoh. The distraught Pharaoh chased his slaves out of Egypt. The Israelites left so rapidly that the bread they were baking for their journey did not have time to rise — matzah, an unleavened bread, symbolizes this.

Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of the Conservative Synagogue of Westport, Weston and Wilton, which has a congregation of 430 families, said Passover celebrates this exodus from Egypt. But it is also a time to think about those who are hungry and enslaved, and it is a time for personal reflection. "We think about the ways in which we are still enslaved and how we can become more 'free' this year," said Wiederhorn.

Rabbi Levi Stone, of the Schneerson Center For Jewish Life , which serves Westport, Weston, Wilton and Norwalk, agreed. "Going out of Egypt is something that happened in the past but something that happens every day in our own lives," said Stone.

Traditionally Jewish people tell stories of liberation — their personal exodus, recalling the history of the Israelites bondage, reflecting on people still enslaved and on those who have recently been freed — at a Seder. A Seder is a feast with symbolic foods, prayers and the collaborative reading of specific text.

Seders are usually done in private homes. For those who do not have a Seder to attend, Stone's organization is having two communal Seders. For more information visit www.schneersoncenter.org .

How will you celebrate Passover? Please leave comments below.

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