"In each and every generation, why is tonight different from any other night?" asked Rabbi Frederick Wenger of Congregation Kol Ami.
The question was raised to children assembled March 20 in a preparatory Passover Seder held at the Jewish Community Center. Passover begins Saturday.The Seder explains, through ritual, that although Passover celebrates the escape of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, every individual should feel personally redeemed. The Passover service proclaims, "Therefore, since God redeemed us, we must glorify the Holy One and sing praises before him."
Each Seder plate contains Karpas, a vegetable, usually parsley, symbolizing spring and rebirth. It is dipped in a dish of salt water representing tears. Maror is bitter herbs and represents the bitterness of slavery. Traditionally romaine lettuce or freshly ground horseradish is used. Haroset is a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, wine and spices. The maror is dipped into this mixture to lessen the bitter herbs' taste. It also represents the mortar made for bricks by the slaves in Egypt.
A roasted egg, beitzah, is a symbol of the festival sacrifice offered by each Jew going up to the temple in Jerusalem. The egg is hard-boiled and then placed on a stove burner until a part of it is scorched. Finally, a roasted bone, Zeroa, is the symbol of the Passover sacrifice.
Also included in the Passover Seder are Matzot, the plain flour and water matzoh that represents the bread of affliction. When the children of Israel fled Egypt, they had no time to let their dough rise so unleavened bread was their only provision. "Kosher for Passover" grape juice or wine is also a part of the Seder.
Passover celebrates the redemption of the Exodus as a foreshadowing of the redemption yet to come. And as Rabbi Wenger told the children, "Our Passover means nothing if we do not long for freedom for everyone."
Assisting Rabbi Wenger was Refael Schwartz, an Israeli who is studying business management at LDS Business College. His seventh-grade Kol Ami class sang the traditional Passover songs in Hebrew.
As Rabbi Wenger conducted the Seder, the question "Why is this night different from all other nights?" seemed to be answered with more questions. "How do we treat others?" "How do we serve God?" The week-long observance of Passover points out that matzah is at once the bread of affliction eaten by the slaves in Egypt and the bread of redemption eaten by Israelites fleeing to freedom in the desert. "Are you free?" refers to slavery not just restricted to the bondage of Egypt.
The prophet Elijah, is symbolic of the final redemption and, according to tradition, will herald the coming of the Messiah. A goblet is placed on the table as his cup and the door is opened for him. Every year it is hoped that this year is the one when Elijah appears.