50 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 4, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Queens prepares for Passover celebration
BY MORGAN CHITTUM
Friday, April 19, marks the beginning of
Passover, a Jewish holiday that celebrates
the liberation of the Israelites from slavery
over 3,000 years ago.
Each spring, the week long commemoration
occurs around the globe. Th e
holiday is widely recognized in Queens
In New York City, there are over 1.1
million Jewish residents, making up
13 percent of the overall population.
However, Queens has the third largest
number of Georgian Jews in the
world. In particular, Forest Hills has the
only Georgian-Jewish synagogue in the
So what are the traditions and customs
of this ancient holiday?
Th e fi rst two nights of Passover begin
at dusk with the Seder. Th is Jewish ritual
feast serves to remind participants of
the mass exodus story of the Israelites’
enslavement and their freedom from
slavery. Commonly taking place in a
family home, a table is set with multiple
glasses of wine, a seder plate and matzo.
Usually divided into fi ve sections, the
seder plate has a variety of foods symbolizing
parts of the liberation story.
Some common foods include: bitter
herbs, a lamb bone, a roasted egg, haroset
and a vegetable dipped in salt. Th ese
are meant to display the primary theme
of Passover- the Jewish people’s escape
Th e bitter herbs, such as horseradish,
symbolize the bitterness of slavery.
Th e lamb bone and egg are the sacrifi ces
Israelites made before the mass exodus.
Th e haroset, a brown or red paste made
from apples, red wine and walnuts, represents
bricks the Israelites had to mortar
for their oppressive rulers.
Finally, the vegetable or the karpas
dipped in salt acknowledges the tears of
Th roughout the meal, participants
will recite and listen to the Haggadah,
an ancient Jewish text that reenacts the
events from the mass exodus.
Th e Haggadah also contains special
blessings, rituals and Passover songs.
Th e Seder closes with desert or
Afi koman, which is a broken piece of
unleavened bread called matzo. Half of a
matzo piece is hidden around the home,
usually by a child, for someone to eat at
the end of their meal. Participants eat
unleavened bread because the Israelites
did not have time to let their bread rise
before they escaped Egypt.
Observant Jews are encouraged to eat
matzo instead of leavened bread throughout
the week to honor their ancestors.
Other traditions of Passover include:
singing songs of praise, drinking four
cups of wine (which represent the four
promises from God to the Israelites) and
a series of questions asked by children to
discuss the exodus narrative.
Passover lasts roughly a week, acknowledging
the number of days the Israelites
were running from the Egyptians until
Moses parted the Red Sea for their escape.
Th is year, Passover takes place from
Friday, April 19, to Saturday, April 27.