Friday marks the beginning of Passover

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Jewish holiday of Passover begins Friday at sunset and is an annual festival that continues for eight days ending next Saturday.

Rabbi Julie Kozlow, the spiritual leader at Bnai Israel Congregation in Wilmington, appeared on WWAY’s Good Morning Carolina to discuss the meaning of Passover, also known as Pesach.

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“Passover is, for the Jewish people, our foundational holiday,” Kozlow said. “It tells us who we are and reminds who we are every year, its a story that’s 3,300 years old, a story about us once being enslaved and God freeing us, taking us out of Egyptian slavery.”

Seder is observed at sunset on the first night of Passover and Kozlow showed a platter that is passed in her home during this symbolic meal.

“We use different props to tell the story, so the Seder is meant to bring the story alive to everyone because we are each commanded to experience ourselves as if we were freed from slavery so that we understand what it was like to be enslaved and can therefore understand the meaning of freedom,” she said.

One of the things she adds to her platter is a chain with metal links which symbolizes bondage.

“We feel that as long as someone is enslaved in the world, then our obligation is to reach out for them because we feel God reached out to us to bring us out of slavery,” Kozlow said.

Another Jewish tradition involves the practice of eating matzo which is unleavened flatbread.

“We don’t eat any bread with leaven in it, we don’t eat cakes, or cupcakes, we stay away from what is considered a luxury in the world like croissants and yeast-filled breads,” she said. “Matzo is a flat bread called the poor man’s bread and that’s a way of teaching ourselves that its a time to keep our spirits humble — to be in solidarity with everybody in the world who is living in some sort of enslavement, which is just about everybody at one time or another.”

She also adds that Seder involves eating in solidarity, symbolically, with those around the world who do not have freedom.

These traditions are passed from generation to generation and are essential to the Jewish faith.

“That’s the whole point, we are much more interested in the questions than the answers, so the good Seder that’s doing its job is the Seder that will inspire people to ask questions and to have the children feel like they can see themselves in the story and that’s why every year, we go through this retelling — we drink our history and eat our ethics and remind ourselves of who we are and what we stand for and what it means to be Jewish,” she said.