Beth El Gibor Messianic Jewish Congregation
In observance of Passover (Pesach) and Fast of the Firstborn also known as the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Beth El Gibor Messianic Jewish Congregation and guests of different faiths (gentiles) partook in a seder, which means ‘order’ of the plate and wine, March 31.
Rabbi Mark Shulman led the festival with the reading of Passover Trilogy Messianic Haggadah (study book). During the Haggadah, certain tastings take place within the scripture and lessons throughout. Members and guests were instructed when to pass the plate for each entry or when to fill their wine glass for the next drink of the ‘four cups.’ The congregation utilized grape juice, which is common in large gatherings. Most times in private homes observing a Passover seder, a red wine is used.
On the seder plate you can expect ‘maror’ (bitter herbs), such as parsley which is dipped into salt water, and pure horseradish as a remembrance of the bitterness and harshness of the slavery the Hebrews endured in Egypt. Some other items include a shank bone of lamb (zeroa), symbolizing the korban Pesach sacrifice, and a sweet paste called “haroset.” Matzo bread has high significance as it represents the exodus of Israelites from Egypt and was a food source to get them through, as they could not wait for bread to rise. The matzo could be baked unleavened and would sustain those on this journey.
Rabbi Shulman led the congregation and guests through the festival with dry humor and also a seriousness about the meaning of Passover, making the experience enjoyable and meaningful.
Children were invited to gather and sing the Ma Nishtanah while helpers held cards with the words for them, a very sweet moment. After the rituals were over the guests and congregation enjoyed a buffet dinner hosted by Green Pond Country Club. Rabbi Shulman went from table to table during dinner to greet people and engage in conversation.
Shulman said there were around 180 guests, the highest count in the 13 years of the annual seder meal.
After coffee and dessert were served, the final readings and the fourth cup of ‘wine’ were introduced.
You can visit Beth El Gibor at 1555 Linwood St, Bethlehem, where Rabbi Shulman and the congregation invite members of the Jewish community as well as gentiles.