The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 8, 2014

Community can share Passover meal

JOHNSTOWN — Few meals can match the symbolism and ceremony associated with a Jewish seder dinner.

Jews throughout the region will begin the celebration of Passover at sundown April 14, said Rabbi Irvin Brandwein, religious leader of Beth Sholom Congregation, 700 Indiana St., Westmont. Passover marks God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

The holiday also is a time for the traditional seder meal, a meaningful event that is the core ritual of the celebration.

The Johnstown congregation has made it a practice for more than a decade to open the seder to the public. The dinner has grown to be quite popular with the non-Jewish community.

“I would say at least two-thirds of those who attend the seder are not Jewish,” said Barbara Rosenberg, spokeswoman for the synagogue’s Jewish Family Services committee in charge of the event. “While many of the foods in the meal are symbolic, Jewish cuisine is flavorful, and a person doesn’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the dishes. The meal has a gourmet touch and is conducted in elegant surroundings.”

Brandwein said many of the past guests at the dinner have been from Christian churches from throughout the area.

“There is a shared heritage between Christianity and Judaism,” Brandwein said. “We each follow a Passover tradition with themes that are similar.”

The Israelites’ Passover observance is the commemoration of their physical deliverance from bondage in Egypt, whereas Passover for most Christians represents a spiritual deliverance from the slavery of sin.

The seder meal includes matza, an unleavened cracker eaten by the Hebrews as they fled slavery; bitter herbs, which symbolize the bitterness of oppression; and parsley and eggs dipped in salt water, which symbolize new life, spring rebirth and the tears associated with breaking with the past and starting their new life. The meal is a way of passing on the religion’s history and traditions.

For those interested in at­tending the seder, the deadline to register is April 4. The cost is $25 and reservations can be made by calling 536-0647.

Rosenberg said the meal has been such a success because it is an enlightening experience for non-Jewish members of the community.

“The true credit for the success of the meal goes to Rabbi Brandwein, who translates the story of Passover into a message that is universal to everyone,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg calls the evening an opportunity to share with the community and enjoy camaraderie.

“Above all, it’s an enlightening and spiritual event,” she said.

Families traditionally prepare the seder meals in their home.

“By having it at the synagogue, we welcome some Jewish people who may be alone or their extended families are scattered throughout the country and unable to return home,” she said.

Brandwein said that once the symbolic food has been served and explained, the guests will enjoy a sumptuous five-course kosher dinner.

Because of the dietary restrictions, food for the seder must be purchased from a market in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. While the meal’s $25 fee doesn’t cover the cost, the congregation wants the public to learn about the traditions associated with the meal.

The unleavened matza re­places bread the entire week of Passover, Brandwein said.

“Since bread rises and inflates, it represents self-importance, so we go back to the basics with flour and water that teaches us humility,” he said. “Matza is a symbol of slavery because when they fled Egypt, the Jews didn’t have time to let the bread rise.

“The most relevant part of the seder is that it teaches us that our God demands human freedom,” Brandwein said. “When we hear of the suffering of oppression, we need to oppose the tyrant who hardens his heart to God’s demand for justice and compassion.”

Passover ends at sundown April 22.

Seder spirit

What: Community seder meal.

When: 5:30 p.m. April 14.

Where: Beth Sholom Congregation, 700 Indiana St., Westmont.

Reservations: Deadline is April 4.

Cost: $25 a person.

Information: 536-0647.

Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter.com/Tom LavisTD.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • fire_23 Investigators seek cause of West End fire

    The cause of a five-alarm fire early Monday at a vacant structure in the 500 block of Dorothy Avenue in Johnstown’s West End has not been determined, according to city fire officials.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland seeks loan for roof, HVAC work

    Richland Township’s plans to replace the municipal building’s roof and heating and air conditioning system will cost nearly $600,000, Solicitor Gary Costlow said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Undocumented children already arriving in state

    An influx of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border is spilling over into Pennsylvania, as state officials received word Monday that more than 500 are being housed in the commonwealth.

    July 22, 2014

  • Auditor cites flaws in gas drilling regulation

    Strained by limited resources and the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, environmental regulators have failed to adequately monitor well safety or to provide clear and timely information to citizens, the state auditor general said Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Driver in fatal DUI crash will serve jail time

    A Vintondale man was sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court to serve 16 to 32 months in the county jail for a 2011 alcohol-related crash that killed a woman.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 22, 2014

  • Reade Twp. water projects receive funding

    Three water treatment systems in Cambria County will receive financial assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove acid mine drainage from nearby waterways.

    July 22, 2014

  • stoystown Tractor Fest Antique tractors chugging toward Stoystown fest

    A display of a whole lotta horsepower and pulling contests will highlight the 14th annual Antique Tractor Festival.
    Sponsored by Stoystown Lions Club and Laurel Highlands Antique Power Club, the event will be held July 31 through Aug. 3 at the Lions’ park, one-half mile east of Stoystown on Route 30.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Irish dance school wants to set toes tapping in Cambria County

    If you ever wanted to learn to dance an Irish jig, now is your chance.
    Kenny Cavanaugh School of Irish Dance, based out of Milford, Pike County, is expanding into Cambria County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State for $1M

    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

    July 22, 2014

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads