Passover is the springtime Jewish holiday that celebrates liberation of the Jewish people from enslavement in Egypt in 3,300 years ago.

Passover is the springtime Jewish holiday that celebrates liberation of the Jewish people from enslavement in Egypt 3,300 years ago. The telling of the story is part of a ritual called the Seder, a means of passing down history from one generation to another. Passover, with its universal theme of freedom, is also an opportunity to reflect on the many places in the world today where people are still enslaved and suffering. Although the bondage of the Jews in Egypt ended long ago, on an emotional level the story speaks to every person today.

Rabbi David Zaslow, spiritual leader of the Havurah, takes the metaphor of one's own spiritual journey and weaves it into the Seder, asking 'Who is your Pharoah?' 'Where are the narrow places in your life that keep you stuck?' During the eight days of Passover, Jews refrain from eating bread or wheat products that contain yeast or leaven as a sign of humility and the rapid speed at which change can take place in our lives.

While most Jews enjoy a more intimate Seder at home on the first night of Passover, it's customary to enjoy the second night Seder with the larger community.

This year, the Havurah has three community Seder meals to choose from. The traditional Community Seder, which will take place on the Thursday, April 9, at 5:30 p.m. is led by Rabbi David Zaslow. The four-course gourmet meal will be prepared, as it is each year, by Marlane Webb of the Ashland Springs Hotel. The event sells out each year, so please call early to make your reservations.

"The Havurah Community Seder is a beautiful, experiential and joyous event, infused with songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, English and Ladino as well as a guided visualization led by Devorah Zaslow to help everyone feel as though they were present on the shores of the Red Sea all those years ago," said Ayala Zonnenschein, Havurah program director. "Folks are encouraged to offer their own insights as the story progresses, thus creating an atmosphere of intimacy, warmth and sharing."

This year, for the first time, the Havurah will be offering a Family Potluck Seder on Friday, April 10, at 5 p.m., which will also be led by Rabbi David and will be child-friendly and easier on the pocketbook.

"We wanted to provide an alternative to our traditional, catered event so that families with children could more easily participate," Zonnenschein said. "This will be a very fun, interactive Seder with lots of music and joy."

Women's Seder

Finally, on Sunday, April 12, at 5 p.m. Rabbi Sue Morningstar and Debra Zaslow will co-lead the fourth annual Women's Potluck Seder. This event is not a traditional Seder, but follows the format of tradition while bringing in and honoring women.

The women's Seder is a unique event that honors the special bond of women, female ancestors, and the stories of the enslavement and liberation of the feminine.

Advance reservations are required for each of these events.To reserve or for more info call 488-7716 or visit the Havurah's website at http://havurahshirhadash.org/upcoming-events-at-a-glance.htm to download registration forms. The Havurah is located at 185 N. Mountain Ave.