Pesach

Passover 2019 begins at sundown on Friday, April 19, and ends Saturday evening, April 27. The first Passover seder is on the evening of April 26, and our Beth El Congregational Seder will take place on Saturday evening, April 20.


Passover is one of our most ancient celebrations. The origins of Passover lie in pre-Israelite spring celebrations of the first grain harvest and the births of the first lambs of the season. Thousands of years ago, Jews linked the renewal of spring with the people’s renewal in Torah’s story of the Exodus, when, at God’s instruction, Moses lead the Israelites out from slavery in Egypt to freedom. Together with Shavuot (the Festival of Weeks) and Sukkot (The Festival of Booths), Pesach is one of the ancient Israelite pilgrimage festivals, during which our people journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and renew their spiritual connections. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the focus of Pesach celebration shifted to the seder meal. During Passover, there is an affirmative instruction to “eat matzah” for the duration of the holiday and an injunction against eating “leavened bread” and food products; these are known as chametz.

The themes of Passover are ever-renewing—where are we, as individuals and as members of larger groups, on our journeys of liberation and freedom? How does our own history of oppression and liberation inform our responsibilities towards those who are oppressed today? What internal leaven (ego and pride) do we need to discard in order to live with greater authenticity and truth in the world?
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Find out how you can help others in their struggle...

Moving From Outrage to Action

Sunday, March 31, 1:00–3:00 p

In the spirit of Pesach, our congregation can make a difference by supporting our most vulnerable immigrant neighbors. This inspiring program of learning and action will include instruction from local leaders on techniques for outreach, coaching, mentoring, tutoring and advocacy in response to the criminalization of immigrants, separating families at the border, and blocking asylum-seekers. Contact Mike Austin (mjaustin@berkeley.edu) for more information.

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Prepare for Passover
Get ready for Passover, Judaism's most important festival, with these programs!

The Historical Haggadah: From Temple to Table with Rabbi Yoel Kahn

Tuesday, March 26, 7:30–9:00 pm

In North Africa, Jewish children would come to the Seder table dressed for the journey but, in its structure, the Passover Seder owes more to Socrates than to Moses. Learn about the origins, structure and history of the Passover Haggadah as it evolved and grew across the centuries.

The Modern Haggadah with Rabbi Yoel Kahn

Thursday, April 11, 7:30–9:00 pm

The Passover Seder changed very little between 900 and 1900...but over the last 100 years, American Jews retold the story of Passover in new ways, reflecting their history as free citizens in democracy and as witnesses to the 20th century. Come for an examination of a wide-selection of modern Haggadahs and an exploration of how ancient themes are updated and new narratives are woven in. Please bring the Haggadahs you use (or don't use) at your Seder.

The Passover Seder: Make Your Own Haggadah Workshop with
Rabbi Yoel Kahn, Cantor Elaya Jenkins-Adelberg & Juliet Gardner

Sunday, April 13, 10:00 am–12:00 noon

Who is coming to your Seder? How can you create a Haggadah (and celebration) that is engaging, fun and appropriate for everyone? We willl have ideas, reading, activities and crafts to help enliven any seder you are having. If you have always wanted to have a Seder but didn't know what to do, this is for you! If you want to share your own innovations, please do. Bring your homemade, your Maxwell House, your wine-stained and your downloaded Haggadah. "Let all who are in need, come and (learn about how to) celebrate Passover with us!" Look for sign-up in the e-Update; childcare by reservation. Free to Beth El members.

Passover Morning Service

Saturday, April 20
The Pesach morning service includes the traditional readings of Torah and Haftarah, the joyful singing of Psalms (Hallel), and the ancient blessings for the coming of spring. Followed by the always-delicious Seder Leftovers Potluck Lunch. Childcare will be available during the service. Look for sign-up soon.
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Second Night Congregational Passover Seder 5779

Saturday, April 20, at 6:00 pm
Join Rabbi Yoel Kahn and and Beth El friends, old and new, in our annual Second Night Congregational Seder. We will enjoy a festive Pesach celebration and a delicious Kosher-for-Passover meal. There will be special kid-friendly (ages K-5) programming during the seder. 
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Sell Your Chametz 

It is a tradition to clean and remove all chametz (leavened products; bread, crackers, pasta, etc.) from our homes before Pesach begins. (Many Reform Jews have a designated shelf or closet where chametz products go for the duration of the holiday.) Many Jews have the custom of "selling" any chametz that they own before the holiday begins. 

The clergy will sell the synagogue’s chametz — and yours, too — in advance of Pesach. If you wish to participate, contact frontoffice@bethelberkeley.org or download this very simple form. Fill it out, and email it or drop it off in the front office. If you have questions about your Pesach preparations, the clergy are happy to help. 
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Don't forget our Spring Break/Pesach closures— 

Beth El Nursery School (BENS) is closed from April 2–8 and Youth & Family Education (YAFE) programs are closed from April 2–13.

Reminder...

There will be no Shabbat services on the Erev Pesach—Friday, March 30.