People & Places

Passover Seder celebrated among Cedar Rapids Jewish community

Temple Judah draws about 80 to annual dinner

Xavier McGhee, 6, of Anamosa (left), and Zachary Fournier, 7, of Cedar Rapids, grin at one another during the read of th
Xavier McGhee, 6, of Anamosa (left), and Zachary Fournier, 7, of Cedar Rapids, grin at one another during the read of the haggadah at the community Passover Seder at Temple Judah in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (Michaela Ramm/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Jewish and Gentile alike were invited to Temple Judah in Cedar Rapids Tuesday for an annual springtime fest.

Temple Judah, 3221 Lindsay Lane SE, hosted a community dinner and prayer, drawing dozens for the celebration of a Passover Seder, a Jewish ritual feast held at the beginning of Passover.

“It’s kind of a fun night,” said Rabbi Todd Thalblum, who led the festivities. “It’s one of the most celebrated nights in the Jewish community.”

More than 80 people reserved spots for the event, said Nancy Margulis, president of the synagogue congregation.

Passover celebrates the Jews’ redemption from slavery in Egypt during ancient times. During the Seder, participants read the story from a “haggadah,” or a text that sets the order of the Passover Seder.

“It’s got sort of a production to it, because you go through the story,” Thalblum said.

The tables at the event were decorated symbolically, and included a Seder plate that holds six food items, each representing aspects of the ancient story, Margulis said.

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“There’s a lot of symbolism as far as the bitterness of slavery,” Margulis said.

Thalblum said he equates the celebration to Thanksgiving, particularly with the theme of gathering with loved ones for a traditional feast.

Margulis also compared the festival to the Christians’ Easter as far as its significance in the religion.

Passover began Monday at sunset and ends on Tuesday, April 18. However, Thalblum said some synagogues — like Temple Judah — only observe a seven-day Passover.

Thalblum said the first Seder, held on the first night of Passover, is meant as a gathering for family or close friends. Community Seder events typically take place on the second night and Temple Judah’s annual dinner has been held for years, Thalblum said.

Margulis said the synagogue has always emphasized welcoming everyone.

“We are a small community and to me it’s very important we’re able to educate others,” Margulis said. “We want people to know what we’re about. We’re not a secret society.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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