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Seder feast marks the beginning of Passover

April E. ClarkGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. With pillows in tow, more than 50 men, women and children entered the Glenwood Springs Community Center Monday night.They weren’t gearing up for a grueling game of volleyball or a brave jaunt up the climbing wall.On the first evening of the Jewish holiday of Passover, community Passover Seder attendees convened for an evening of relaxation and a meal shared with friends and family.”What does the pillow mean?” asked Bo Persiko, who conducted the Valley Havurah-sponsored Seder. “Comfort … Reclining instead of having to sit hard and fast. We celebrate our freedom to be luxurious. Instead of living like slaves, we get to live like kings.”White Shabbat candles were lit to start the ceremony. Persiko read aloud from the Haggadah, a traditional book of prayer and song. On each round table sat Passover Seder Plates of symbolic foods.Bitter herbs in the form of horseradish and romaine lettuce.A roasted shank bone of lamb.The sweet mixture of apples, nuts and wine.

Along with passages and songs from the Haggadah, the foods told the story of slavery, oppression, perseverance, acceptance and gratitude. The ritual was familiar to many in the room, including Abba Krieger, of Carbondale.”This reminds me of childhood memories of my father and mother sitting around celebrating,” said Krieger, of Carbondale. “Passover is analogous to the Christmas celebration of Christians as far as the family gatherings go. It’s a homecoming time of year.”Krieger was raised in Providence, R.I., where his father was a rabbi. He would lead community Seders like Monday night’s observance.”I don’t have any family here right now, so it’s nice to get together with the community,” Krieger said. “The community is my family.”Charlotte Ralff, of Glenwood Springs, brought her 79-year-old parents to the Seder, even though they aren’t Jewish.”I thought they would enjoy it,” Ralff said. “I have a so-called combined religion of the Christian and Jewish faiths. I think it’s really important to honor the Hebrew roots.”Those seated around the round tables shared in the reading of the Passover Haggadah. Grandmothers in bifocals, teenagers in blue jeans and fathers in white silk yarmulkes all took part in the ritual.They sang in Hebrew, and in English.”This is a night of questions,” Persiko said. “The chance to ask questions that are most important in your life.Parsley was dipped in salt water and eaten as a sign of earth’s renewal in springtime. Four cups of red wine or grape juice were raised. Matzo, a flat bread symbolizing an appreciation of freedom, was broken and dipped in bitter horseradish. A communal hand washing cleansed the soul.”Now we have hand washing, where we’re just putting a little bit of water on the fingertips of our neighbors,” Persiko said. “Wash away what you’d like to take away, something you’d like to get rid of after this night.”As the Seder ritual was complete, participants got up from their chairs to line up for a pitch-in Passover meal featuring Matzo ball soup, whitefish and coconut macaroons.Smiles – and spirited conversation – were exchanged as an age-old holiday was celebrated Monday night in Glenwood Springs.Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601aclark@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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