Rabbi Yisroel Hahn of the Chabad of Spokane holds matzo, an unleavened bread, before Monday evening’s Passover Seder.

With Passover meal, Jews celebrate freedom


Congregations from throughout the Inland Northwest join Jews around the world this week in the annual celebration of freedom known as Passover.

About 60 people were preparing Monday to participate in a Seder – the traditional feast at sundown that celebrates the exodus from Egypt – at the Chabad of Spokane, 4116 E. 37th Ave., said Rabbi Yisroel Hahn, director of the traditional Jewish congregation on the South Hill.

“Passover is the ideal time to celebrate freedom,” Hahn said. “This Seder will focus on being liberated from the daily challenges and tribulations that bind and confine us.” The Chabad of Spokane was formed about three years ago, when Hahn arrived from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Reform Judaism Congregation Emanu-El plans to have its Seder for members and guests at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, 4340 W. Fort George Wright Drive.

The congregation’s visiting student rabbi, Sara Abrams, said Passover is a bittersweet holiday because while freedom exists in this country, it doesn’t for many people throughout the world.

“Every Seder is a celebration of renewal and freedom, but it is also a remembrance and re-enactment of slavery,” said Abrams, a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. “At the same time we celebrate our freedom we know that none of us are truly free as long as some of us are still slaves,” she said.

With about 50 families, Congregation Emanu-El was formed in November 2008 by the merger of congregations Ner Tamid and Bet Havarim, according to board President Ray Apfelbaum.

Spokane’s largest Jewish congregation, Temple Beth Shalom, does not have an official community Seder, but its members celebrate at home with family and friends, said member Murray Huppin.

In the Palouse, about 50 people celebrated Passover on Monday evening at the 1912 Center in Moscow, Idaho, according to David Hassan, who helped organize the Seder with fellow rabbinical student Yisrael Bennish as part of the outreach of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, a branch of Hasidism. The Spokane Chabad helped prepare food for the Moscow Seder.