TRINITY — Elaborate preparations are made in Jewish homes as families prepare to celebrate the festival of Passover. This holiday celebrates the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery.
Freedom came after God placed a series of plagues upon the Egyptians, culminating with the death of all the firstborn. The Jews were told to place the blood of an unblemished lamb over their doors so the angel of death would pass over their homes — hence the name Passover.
The Jews were also told to prepare bread in haste, without leaven, so they could leave quickly. The Jewish people today rid their homes of all leaven, which represents sin, to prepare for their physical and spiritual Passover.
"It is not only physical preparedness alone that is required of us, but also spiritual preparedness," said Rabbi Yossi Eber, of the Chabad of West Pasco. "For in the life of the Jew the physical and spiritual are closely linked together, especially in the celebration of our Sabbath and festivals."
He said Passover celebrates physical liberation and spiritual freedom.
"There can be no real freedom without accepting the precepts of our Torah guiding our daily life," he said. "Pure and holy life eventually leads to real freedom."
Passover is being celebrated at several Pasco County locations:
• The Chabad of West Pasco is having a First Seder Night at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Chabad House, 0045 Trinity Blvd., Suite 5 in Trinity. Cost is $25 for adults and $15 for children. There will be a Passover Seder, handmade matzo from Israel, food and stories with a family atmosphere. Call (727) 376-3366 for reservations.
• The Jewish Community Center, Congregation Beth Tefillah, 9541 Scenic Drive, Port Richey, will have its second annual Seder at 6 p.m. Thursday. It will be a kosher catered meal; cost is $35 for members, $40 for nonmembers, $15 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children under 5. Other Passover services are at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, 9:30 a.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. April 14, and 9:30 a.m. April 15 for Yizkor. Call (727) 847-3814.
• Beth-El Shalom, House of God's Peace, (a Messianic congregation) 6209 Congress St. New Port Richey, will tell the meaning of each of the Passover food items and ceremonies at a free celebration at 7 p.m. Thursday. There will be a full service with all the food items to taste such as matzo, charoset and maror — everything except a full dinner. Call (727) 375-7502.
• Shoresh David Messianic Jewish Synagogue will host its third annual Passover Seder meal at 4 p.m. April 11 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 33425 State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel. Experience the reading of the Haggadah, a Passover dinner and singing and Davidic dancing. Cost is $15. Call (352) 588-3068.
• Congregation B'nai Emmunah, 3374 Kingston Road, Tarpon Springs, will have a Potluck Traditional Seder at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Bring a leaven-free covered dish. To make a reservation call (813) 598-6043 or (727) 726-8626.