Jewish community of the Algarve

news: Jewish community of the Algarve

THE JEWISH community of the Algarve will be celebrating the first night of the eight-day Passover Festival with a communal ‘seder’ (dinner) on Saturday, April 23. 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 in Egypt some 3,000 years ago. This is done in response to four questions about the significance of the festival as posed by the youngest present. The reading of the Hagada is followed by a meal at which special foods, commemorating the hardships of slavery, are eaten.

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 and Pharaoh’s daughter found this basket downstream. She brought the child 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 he pleaded with Pharaoh to allow them to leave Egypt. When Pharaoh refused, God intervened and brought 10 plagues down on Egypt. The tenth plague, the visiting of the Angel of Death on all Egyptian firstborn, caused Pharaoh to relent and agree to allow the Israelites to leave. The departure was so hurried that there was no time for the bread they had prepared to rise – 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 40 years in the desert, the Israelites entered the Promised Land of Canaan.

Further information from Ralf Pinto – call 282 416 710, fax 282 416 515 or email [email protected]