On April 11, Paradise Valley Estates held its fourth annual Passover Seder. Passover is the celebration of the liberation of the Jewish slaves more than 5,000 years ago in Egypt and is celebrated in a carefully structured ritual meal called The Seder (pronounced SAY-der). Passover is one of the most beloved of Jewish holidays.
The celebration is centered on gathering together family and friends for the Seder meal and telling of the Passover story. Matzo (unleavened bread) has a central role in the meal. During Passover, no yeast or leavening may be eaten. Matzo is “bread” baked hastily without yeast or leavening as the Jews fled from slavery to freedom.
The gathering reads from a book called the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt. At PVE, we read from the Haggadah by passing the microphone around the room so each person has an opportunity to read. Fortunately, here at PVE, we have Hebrew-speaking residents who lead us through the sections of Hebrew prayers. Because Passover is a family gathering, we sit together at one large square table.
This year, fifty residents gathered to partake in this celebration. With the support of the Dining Services staff, Denise Flowerday and the Life Enrichment staff, this year’s Seder was a resounding success. David Kalbaugh and his staff, once again produced a meal that transported those of us from Jewish families back to our childhood, when we sat around the Seder table with grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters and extended family members.
All the ritual foods were on the table including matzo ball soup, gefilte fish (an acquired taste) with horseradish, harroset (chopped walnuts, apples, cinnamon and sweet wine that represents the clay that the slaves used to make the bricks for the Pharaoh’s cities and pyramids) and many more delicacies. We, of course, partook of the required ritualistic four glasses of wine (oh my) and ended with a spectacular flourless chocolate cake.
The participation of the non-Jewish community members was appreciated. It was an opportunity to share the Passover story and to enjoy each other’s company while eating great food.