Area Passover services begin today through April 7

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Rabbi Dario Hunter explain the symbolism of the Seder plate.

Passover Traditions

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Rabbi Dario Hunter explains the meaning of Passover

A number of services and programs in the Mahoning Valley are on tap to celebrate Passover, which begins at sunset today and continues to April 7.

Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah, 5245 Glenwood Ave., is offering a Shabbat service beginning at 9:45 a.m. Saturday. Starting at 6:15 p.m. that day, the Jewish temple will host a second night Seder, Rabbi Dario Hunter noted.

As part of its regular Shabbat celebration, Ohev Tzedek will have a Yizkor service starting at 9:45 a.m. April 7, which will provide a time for attendees to remember loved ones who have died, Rabbi Hunter said.

Most scholars agree that Passover, which begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan on the Jewish calendar, commemorates the story behind the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery and bondage in Egypt.

According to the Torah, God instructs an Israelite named Moses to tell a pharaoh to free God’s people, which he refuses, so God unleashed 10 plagues upon Egypt.

The final plague was the slaying of the firstborn, where God is said to have had an avenging angel go through Egypt and kill each firstborn child.

The Jewish homes had the blood of a unblemished, sacrificed lamb placed over the door posts. As the avenging angel saw the blood, the angel would pass over those homes, and the Jewish families within were not harmed.

The plague was terrible enough to persuade the pharaoh to allow the Israelites to leave, the story continues.

The pharaoh changes his mind, however, and sends the Egyptian army to retrieve the fleeing Israelites before God causes the parting of the Red Sea, allowing Moses and the others to safely cross, then closes the passage and drowns the Egyptians, the website says.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jews trek through the Sinai Desert for 40 years before they reach their ancestral home of Canaan, later known as the land of Israel.

Temple El Emeth of Greater Youngstown, 3970 Logan Way, Liberty, will host Pesach and Mincha services beginning at 9:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., respectively, from Saturday through April 7. Other programs include a Jewish/Christian dialogue at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and a Passover birthday luncheon April 7 after the 9:30 a.m. service. Those interested in attending the luncheon are asked to RSVP by Thursday.

Today, Congregation Rodef Sholom, 1119 Elm St. on Youngstown’s North Side, will have its annual first night Seder gathering at 6 p.m. as well as a Kabbalah Shabbat service beginning at 5:45 p.m.

The Kabbalah is an ancient Jewish tradition said to provide a comprehensive structure and plan for the universe coupled with a detailed understanding of the particulars of people’s lives.

On April 6, Rodef Sholom’s social-action committee will sponsor a donations drive that will benefit the food bank at Church Hill United Methodist Church in Liberty. Those interested in volunteering with the effort are asked to contact Nancy Burnett, committee chairwoman, at 330-744-5001.

Also, from 10 to 11 a.m. April 6, the synagogue is having a Yizkor Memorial Service.

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