Murrieta’s Congregation B’nai Chaim won’t be the only building of faith closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic during Passover Thursday, April 9, a special time of prayer and faith commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.
The Passover, or Pesach to Hebrews, Asura to Muslims and Passover to Christians, is written in the Torah, Qur’an and the Old Testament of the Bible, but the memorial is one of the most celebrated days for members of Congregation B’nai Chaim, located at 29500 Via Princesa, in Murrieta.
The Jewish forefathers were led by God’s hand to cross the parted Red Sea and find their way to Jerusalem where they raised the first temple in thanks and praise for their deliverance. Today Jerusalem is the holiest city for all three faiths.
Rabbi Roger Cohen of Congregation B’nai Chaim said in the temple’s April 3 service that because of the “stay-at-home” and the physical distancing orders, it will be the first time in history the congregation will be celebrating the traditional Seder meals in their own homes and not at the synagogue.
“This Passover is unlike any we have experienced before as a community,” Cohen said in a message to his congregation. “The first time in our known Jewish history, it is actually a mitzvah not to gather together for a Seder due to the danger to health and life, as the preservation of life is always first and foremost in Judaism’s list of ethical priorities.”
As a result Congregation B’nai Chaim members sat down Thursday at their own dinner tables to celebrate the Pesach with a seder served with gefilte – poached fish with dumplings – matzo ball soup, brisket or roast chicken, potato kugel and tzimmes, a stew of carrots and prunes or sweet potatoes.” Traditionally the Jewish world celebrates two seders on the first and second nights of Passover.
As a celebration of joy, Cohen asked his congregation to sing or chant their own versions of praise to thank God for their deliverance from Egypt at their own dinner table with the family and guests. He asked the families to write and sing modern songs with the Passover lyrics during the dinner. The lyrics to the songs were emailed to the families.
With each of the five or six menu items, the families were asked to remember each element of their exodus from Egypt from the deliverance of the plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea and other miracles performed by Elohim to free them from slavery.
Tony Ault can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.