March 31, 2014 at 6:55 AM
LIVINGSTON, NJ - The students of the Early School and Jewish Learning Program (JLP) of Temple B’nai Abraham (TBA) have been enjoying learning about the upcoming holiday of Passover, which begins at sunset on Monday, April 14, and ends at nightfall on Tuesday, April 22.
Recently, the students took part in the hands-on experience of making Matzah, which is unleavened bread and is one of the key symbols of this Jewish holiday. The students were involved in the entire Matzah-making process—from separating the chaff from the grain, collecting the grain into a hand-driven wheat mill and grinding it into flour, to kneading, rolling and baking the dough into a handmade Matzah. They did this all under the guidance and auspices of The Living Legacy, who set up the “Matzah Bakery” at the temple.
At the conclusion of the class, the students took home their very own freshly baked Matzah, a baker's hat, and a Shmurah Matzah for their family Seder tables.
About the Passover Seder
Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Each year, Jewish families get together on the first two days of the holiday for a Seder, a fifteen-step family-oriented, traditional and ritual-packed feast, in which they read from the Haggadah, a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder and fulfills the Scriptural commandment for each Jew “to tell your son” of the Jews’ liberation from slavery.
The highlight of Passover is the Seder, which includes: eating matzah, eating bitter herbs to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites, drinking four cups of wine or grape juice—a royal drink to celebrate the Jews’ new-found freedom, and reading from the Haggadah.
The Story of Passover
According to the Haggadah, after many decades of being enslaved to the Egyptian pharaohs, God saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to the Pharaoh with a message to let them go. However, despite numerous warnings, the Pharaoh refused to do so. God then sent ten devastating plagues down on Egypt, which afflicted them and destroyed everything from their livestock to their crops.
On the first day of Passover, at the stroke of midnight, God sent down the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, which was killing all of their firstborns. While doing so, God spared the Children of Israel by “passing over” their homes, which is where the name of the holiday, Passover, came from. The Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he chased his former slaves out of the land. However, the Israelites left in such a hurry that the bread they had baked did not have time to rise and became Matzah.
To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, Jewish people don’t eat any leavened grain, such as: bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta and most alcoholic beverages, throughout the holiday.
Non-temple members are welcome to learn from and participate in all Early School programs. For Jewish Learning Programs (K-12 grade) call 973-994-3950 or visit the website. For information regarding The Early School program call 973-994-7016.