The families of Temple Emanuel in Andover came together Monday night to celebrate the start of the Passover holiday with a congregational seder. More than 85 people were expected for the service and dinner led by Rabbi Robert Goldstein and cantorial soloist Jodi Blankstein at the Haggetts Pond Road temple.
Passover is not only a tradition celebrating the liberation of the Israelites, Goldstein said in a release, but also a celebration that teaches the Jewish religion to future generations. He called the congregational seder an opportunity for the family to “reenact the flight of the Israelites from slavery to freedom by way of food, storytelling, and song.”
Pointing to the recent violence in Kansas City as well as the tragedy surrounding last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, Goldstein said Passover “is also a time to reflect on those touched by senseless acts of violence.”
“As we gather with family and friends to observe one of the most celebrated holidays on our Jewish calendar, our thoughts turn again to those touched by a senseless act of violence committed by a misguided extremist,” he said. “Violence, motivated by bigotry, is contrary to the timeless message of Passover.
“If there is one theme of our ancient Jewish celebration it is the right of every human being to live according to his or her own beliefs, unfettered and free. Tolerance for the other and concern for the dignity of all of God’s creatures is a core value of Passover.
Goldstein ended the community seder on a hopeful note.
“(We hope) as generations before us have ... that next year tolerance and compassion will defeat narrowness and fanaticism,” he said. “Perhaps the day will come when people everywhere will live in safety and peace.”
Last week, Goldstein presented a cultural program on a traditional Passover seder at The Center at Punchard. Those gathered enjoyed learning about seder customs and sampling a typical Passover meal as the rabbi shared the rituals and traditions of the holiday.
Temple Emanuel is an active member of the Union for Reform Judaism and is considered the largest Reform Congregation north of Boston. For more information on its services, classes and initiatives, call 978-470-1356 or visit www.templeemanuel.net.