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Local Jewish community thinks globally ahead of Passover

Submitted photo Shalom and Shneur Zwiebel help pack 350 boxes of matzo that Chabad Jewish Center of Southern Oregon imported from Israel and the Ukraine that will be distributed to locals. The Ashland Jewish center is preparing for its first Passover Seder since 2019.
Submitted photo Mike Bernstein with Chabad Jewish Center of Southern Oregon holds a box of imported matzo that will be delivered to locals in the Jewish community this week.

Ahead of its first in-person communal Passover Seder since 2019, a local Jewish community center is reaching out locally and considering those in the Ukraine unable to celebrate the Jewish holiday because of the war.

As part of a global “Fill an Extra Seder Seat” campaign, Chabad Jewish Center of Southern Oregon is delivering hundreds of boxes of handmade “Schmurah” matzo from Israel and the Ukraine to Jewish people in Southern Oregon, and is making extra space for its communal Seder occurring Friday in Ashland.

Rabbi Avi Zwiebel said he anticipates more than 100 attendees at this year’s Seder, scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the Ashland community center, 1474 Siskiyou Blvd. Reservations are required.

The “Fill an Extra Seder Seat” movement — originating from Chabad-Lubavitch of Odessa, Ukraine — asks Jews worldwide to invite at least one extra guest in the community to their Seders in recognition of Jewish people in Ukraine unable to attend Seders because of a war that has separated and destroyed families.

He said he’s looking forward to “having that interactive discussion” during the 15-step, ritual-heavy community dinner this year.

Zwiebel called adding one extra person “the least we can do for them.”

“My colleagues in Ukraine, where the rabbis are heroically providing relief and Passover supplies even as bombs are falling, have reached out asking that we ensure everyone here in Ashland has a Seder to go to because many in their community can’t attend one,” Zwiebel said.

Chabad of Ashland is among community centers and synagogues in 100 countries and all 50 states aligned with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement founded in Eastern Europe.

In addition to preparing for a communal Seder that includes a choice of beef brisket or salmon, Zwiebel and members of the local Jewish community center separately spent Tuesday morning boxing up more than 350 boxes of handmade matzos imported from Israel and the Ukraine to be delivered to locals in the Jewish community.

“We want every Jewish home to have a gift of a Shmura delivered to their home,” Zwiebel said.

Locals in the Jewish community are encouraged to save the matzo to be eaten after nightfall on the first night of Passover, which runs sundown Friday to nightfall Saturday.

The Ashland community Seder is an 18-year tradition that was put on hold due to coronavirus restrictions. The ceremonial meal recounts the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt.

“While Ashland’s Jewish community joyfully joins together in a communal Seder after two Passovers of COVID, the needs of those suffering across the globe will be on our minds,” Zwiebel said.

Cost to participate is a suggested donation of $45 per adult and $20 per child, but no one will be turned away if they can’t pay. Reservations are required by visiting ChabadofAshland.org/Seder.

For information on Chabad of Ashland's Ukraine Jewish relief fund, see ChabadofAshland.org/Ukraine.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.