Local church hosts Seder meals for Passover
Fellowship Bible Church, in Shenandoah Junction, hosted two evenings celebrating the Jewish Seder as part of their Easter celebration. Two evenings were scheduled to accommodate the number of church and community members wishing to participate in the event to learn the history of the Passover.
The Seder is a ritual performed involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This story is in the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. The Seder itself is based on the Biblical verse commanding Jews to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Seder customs include telling the story, discussing the story, drinking four cups of wine (or juice), eating matza, partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate and reclining in celebration of freedom.
The first evening, Thursday, April 2, was led by Tom Jesserun who engaged the attendees in singing and other activities as he shared the Passover story. Friday’s dinner was presided over by Willem Griffeon. Both evenings had guests following along in a program outlining readings and responses in the interactive program. Pastor Van Marsceau participated in both evenings, welcoming all to the event and leading prayer.
Items on the Seder plate all have ceremonial significance which help tell the story of Passover. They include parsley representing life; a hard cooked egg which illustrates the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart ; bitter herbs (horseradish); showing the embittered lives of the people; charoses, a sweet apple/nut mixture representing the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to build the storehouses or pyramids of Egypt. Also on the plate is a shank bone symbolizing the korban Pesach (Pesach sacrifice), which was a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night.
Another element of the traditional meal is the Matzo Tash, a folded napkin containing three sheets of matzo, unleavened bread. The center sheet of matzo holds great significance in the Jewish custom as it may have been the middle piece of matzo from the container that Jesus took and described as His body which was broken or given for man. The yeastless bread symbolizes that which was eaten by the Hebrews after they were set free.
The drinking of four cups of wine (juice) is also a significant part of the Seder meal. The Four Cups represent the four expressions of deliverance promised by God Exodus 6:6-7: “I will bring out,” “I will deliver,” “I will redeem,” and “I will take.”
Fellowship Bible Church hosts the traditional Seder every other year. The evening includes not only the traditional telling of the story of Passover. The evenings also encompassed a meal including roast beef, parsley potatoes, salad, vegetables and fruit. The meal was prepared under guidelines outlined in the traditional telling of the Passover story as no dairy products could be used. Other food items such as leavened bread and beans are also not acceptable as part of the traditional meal.
The church opens such events as the Seder to the public. Additional events and activities are scheduled throughout the year and can be found on the church website at www.fellowshipwv.org or by calling the church at 304-728-3700.