By Mazal Cohen and Orly Rodriguez
On Sunday, March 30, the sun was finally shining--a harbinger of the coming spring. It was a great day to celebrate the approach of Passover at the 16th Annual Pre-Passover Gathering 5774.Women from the community explored, experienced, and tasted the exotic and special foods of the Seder night. They discovered that the unique food of Passover is much more than just food. It is a gateway to enhance and deepen our understanding of the message of Passover, that of personal freedom. While the women enjoyed a fresh salad bar, Aviv Sharrock played a soulful Nigun from the Seder, “Kalie Ata,” and Mazal Cohen welcomed the participants. Chana Sheri Glauberman and Lital Pearson lit the candles for the evening. Janet Minc led the prayer, Psalm 150, that tells about the Exodus, followed by the blessing of the new month by Debbie Saferstein. We enjoyed the beautiful piano music played by Lilya Feinstein throughout the evening. As a delicious soup was served, Mazal Cohen shared insights about the Matzah, a Food for Faith, and explained how the historical past of the Matzah is relevant today, calling it today’s “spiritual vitamin” for faith. Singing the Ma Nishtanah song, we heard about the insights and stories about the K’ara , the Seder plate food. Through each one of these foods, we are connected to the story of the transition from slavery to freedom. Our presenters were:
Jessica Olenik - Wine for enhancing joy.
Joyce Butlein - Karpas and salt water for renewal, hope, and growth along with tears, pain, and challenge.
Patrice and Jessica Leeds Richmond - Charoset for experiencing the sweet taste of freedom.
Nurit Kohl - Maror for enriching personal experience from bitterness to sweetness.
Robyn Tobias - Egg and Shank bone for offering thanks to G-d for freedom.
Special thanks and appreciation to all of the speakers who helped us to understand
the relevance of the K’ara Seder plate by sharing an example from their own lives.After dinner was served, guest speaker Dr. Deanna Freedman spoke about healthy eating and how we can change and moderate our current diet to achieve better health and wellness. To conclude the evening Miri Kogan led an art workshop in which we decorated bags for the Affikoman-matza and a Gift of a Handmade Shmura Matzah. Then all were invited to enjoy the Dessert Buffet.
“From decorating the Afikoman bags with Miri, the music with April and Lilyah, the insights from Mazal, the discussions of the Seder plate with personalized stories, to the food, it was very enjoyable. Dr. Deanna Freedman as the keynote speaker was inspiring!"- Debbie Saferstein
“It was a wonderful and thought provoking evening.” - Jessica Olenik
“We all learned a lot and were inspired. I really like my matzah bag!” - Joyce Butlien
"Thank you, Mazal, for getting me involved. Like most people, I’m usually hesitant when asked to volunteer. Between work and family I’m often concerned that my plate would be too full and I won’t be able to juggle it all. No surprise, juggling went just fine. And not only it went fine but I was also able to draw so much from the experience! I learned things about the Seder that I never knew, even though I’ve been celebrating it for more than 30 years and mostly in Israel. This year I know that my holiday experience and that of my family and friends will be richer.” - Nurit Kohl