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Organization teaches Passover traditions to new generation

ELDERSBURG - A younger generation got a taste of old Jewish traditions Monday night while they participated in a demonstration Passover Seder.

About 11 children, ages 7 to 12, with the Hebrew Learning Center participated in the Seder at the Eldersburg branch of the Carroll County Public Library. The Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The tradition involves the retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, as told in the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible.

The kids each took turns recounting the liberation story, reading about Passover and speaking Hebrew. Each of the foods at the feast symbolized the struggle Jews went through in their pursuit of freedom.

The singing of the "Ma Nishtana," known as "The Four Questions," is 11-year-old Alyson Lillibridge's favorite part of Seders. The song highlights the four differences between Passover and other nights. Alyson, of Finksburg, has annual Seders with her family and enjoys carrying on the traditions, she said.

To keep the kids engaged, teacher Barbara Arbesman brought props to demonstrate the 10 plagues brought on to Egypt by God. Arbesman brought toy frogs and animals to demonstrate the second and fourth plagues, tossed out marshmallows to express hail and had the kids make noises and hop around like locusts.

By the end of the plagues demonstration, the kids were laughing and asking questions.

"This year I wanted to do something interactive so that the kids wouldn't get bored," Arbesman said. "You get to do a lot of creative things."

Since Jews are in the minority in Carroll County, it's important to bring the community together and keep Jewish traditions alive for the next generation, Arbesman said. Some of the kids that attended the demonstration, she said, were learning about Passover for the first time. Hopefully, Arbesman said, the kids will remember Monday night's Seder when they perform their own.

Jewish families and friends will be performing their own Seders on Friday and Saturday as part of the beginning of Passover.

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