Algarve’s Jewish community celebrates Passover Festival

THE JEWISH Community of the Algarve will be celebrating the first night of the eight-day Passover Festival with a communal seder (dinner) on Wednesday, April 12. The reading of the Hagada (story) is central to the festivities. The elders relate the story of the exodus of the Israelites from slavery under the Pharaohs of Egypt some 3,000 years ago. This is done in response to four questions posed by the youngest present about the significance of the festival. The reading of the Hagada is followed by a meal of special foods, commemorating the hardships of slavery.

Pharaoh had decreed that all babies born in slavery were to be drowned in the river Nile. A mother had placed her newborn infant son in a floating basket in order to save him. The basket was found downstream by Pharaoh’s daughter, who brought him up in the Royal Court. The baby’s name was Moses and he was chosen by God to free the Israelites from slavery.

Moses, as a young man, was perturbed by the harsh treatment his people were receiving and pleaded with Pharaoh to allow them to leave Egypt. When Pharaoh refused, God intervened and brought 10 plagues down on Egypt. The 10th plague, the visiting of the Angel of Death on all Egyptian firstborn, caused Pharaoh to relent and agreed to let the Israelites leave.

The departure was so hurried that there was no time for the bread they had prepared to rise and this unleavened bread is now called Matzo. To this day, Jews worldwide eat only Matzo during the eight days of Passover.

Despite agreeing to the exodus, Pharaoh reneged and sent his soldiers after the fleeing Israelites. At the Red Sea, Moses parted the water and the Israelites crossed safely. The sea closed again and the pursuing soldiers on their heavy chariots were bogged down and drowned.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, in which time they received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. After four decades in the desert, the Israelites entered the Promised Land of Canaan.

Further information from Ralf Pinto on 282 416 710, fax 282 416 515 or e-mail [email protected]