Matzah is an important part of the Jewish Passover service

Volunteers pack homemade matzah for delivery in time for Passover.

Chabad of Venice & North Port will distribute more than 500 boxes of hand-made Shmurah Matzah this year to help local Jews participate in the upcoming Passover holiday.

Passover, celebrated this year from Friday evening, April 19, until after nightfall on Saturday, April 27, commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt in 1313 BCE. Directed by G-d to leave Egypt hastily, the people of Israel could not wait for their dough to rise, and thus ate unleavened crackers called “Matzah.” (Editor’s Note: Many Jews use a hyphen in place of the “o” in the word God out of respect.)

Round, kneaded and shaped by hand, present day “Shmurah” Matzahs (lit. watched Matzahs) are similar to those eaten by the Jews when leaving Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. From the moment the wheat is harvested, the ingredients are carefully watched to ensure that they do not become leavened, which would be prohibited on Passover.

The local effort is part of a global Passover campaign that began in 1954, when the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory, considered the most influential rabbi in modern history, launched the Shmurah Matzah initiative in an effort to create awareness and promote observance of the holiday. This year an estimated 4 million hand-baked Shmurah Matzahs will be distributed by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. In addition, millions of Passover guides in 17 languages will educate people on the meaning and practices of the holiday.

“The Rebbe taught that no solitary Jewish person ought to be left out. Every Jew, regardless of their background, affiliation or even location, should have access to the provisions they need to celebrate Passover.” said Rabbi Sholom Schmerling at the Chabad of Venice.

Community members are invited to participate in a community Seder to be held on Friday evening, April 19 at 7:30 pm. The Seder will feature a rich discussion about Passover, excellent food, and joyous singing. Rabbi Sholom Schmerling will facilitate the inter-generational program. Chabad of Venice is cooking for 200 people this Passover so they can partake in the Seder.

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