Stanislaus County community invited to experience Jewish observance of Passover

A past year's Seder meal at Congregation Beth Shalom during the Jewish celebration of Passover.
A past year's Seder meal at Congregation Beth Shalom during the Jewish celebration of Passover. Modesto Bee

All are invited to join the Jewish community in Modesto during Passover observances planned for Friday and Saturday.

Passover is the most observed holiday in Judaism. This year, Passover begins Friday night, March 30, and ends Saturday night, April 7.

In Modesto, Congregation Beth Shalom has new programs planned, including a Family Seder for those with younger children, according to a press release from Rabbi Shalom Bochner.

First, CBS hosts a traditional Seder at 7:30 p.m. Friday. A shorter musical Seder with singers and musicians from the congregation is planned for 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. The congregation also will offer the Family Seder for younger participants at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

All of the Seders will include a catered kosher meal, along with traditional songs and activities, according to the release. The musical Seder will include sing-along activities.

The Seders are an opportunity for Jewish and non-Jewish people to learn more about the holiday and enjoy traditional Passover foods, Bochner said in the release.

Passover dates back more 3,500 years and celebrates the birthday of the Hebrew tribe, the date when they were transformed from slaves to a free nation, Bochner said. "It is also a celebration of the season of rebirth after the winter and a time of new beginnings. Passover’s main ritual is a festive meal eaten with family, friends and neighbors called a Seder, which means 'order'."

The Seder is celebrated on the anniversary of the Jewish exodus from Egypt with a ritual of 15 activities that include the meal. Some of the other rituals are eating a bitter herb as a reminder of the bitterness of slavery, eating matzah (unleavened bread) to recall the haste to be free, singing celebratory Psalms and discussing the Exodus story.

All the Congregation Beth Shalom Passover events are open to the community. RSVP by calling CBS at 209-571-6060 or e-mail