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Passover holiday celebrate freedom

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POSTED: March 29, 2010 2:19 p.m.
It occurred to me while planning for Pesach — Passover — this week, there are fellow Jews out there who may be alone or separated from family on this major Jewish holiday.
Passover, the weeklong festival of unleavened bread, or matzo, begins Monday evening at sunset.
I wondered about our young Jewish American soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and thought how lonely they must be. It must be strange for Jews in uniform to observe a distinctly Jewish festival while they’re deployed to a Muslim country.
Even so, most military chaplains do their best to be attentive to the needs of Jewish soldiers, as well as soldiers of other faith traditions.
Maj. Vince Porter of the 1st Heavy Battalion Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division currently deployed to Iraq, informed me there is a rabbi in theater that prepares and leads Seder meals and a Jewish Distinguished Faith Leader who assists in leading Passover observances as well.
Military.com reported the Defense Logistics Agency has provided 7,500 Passover meals to Jewish troops so far this year. The kosher-for-Passover meals cost about $126 for a case of 12 MREs. Regular MREs cost about $86, Military.com reported.
I’ve also found, while surfing the Internet, Jewish organizations and synagogues suggest ways Jewish families can support their brethren in the military, such as welcoming soldiers to their congregations and homes or sending them care packages during such holidays as Hanukah, Purim and Passover.
If my family we’re having our Passover Seder (ritual meal) here in South Georgia, I would gladly have welcomed a soldier to our table.
My mother, sister and brother live on the West coast so we’ve often celebrated Passover far from my extended family. Celebrating Jewish rituals far from “home” is nothing new to me; when my husband was active duty Air Force we spent a number of holidays in the company of other military families when we were stationed overseas.
This year, we’re spending Passover with my friend Orly at her home in the Northeast Georgia mountains. Orly is a transplanted Israeli. She and her husband, Ari, lived and worked on a kibbutz — a communal farm in Israel — for more than 25 years. Now, Ari is the vintner for Blackstock Vineyard and Winery in Cleveland.
So, with Orly’s amazing Mediterranean culinary skills and Ari’s fabulous wine choices, we’ll be well satisfied with the meal once we meander through our Seder service.
I think the Seder is a beautiful series of ritual, story and song no matter whether one is at a crowded table set with fine china or with a handful of fellow soldiers sharing a special Passover MRE.
The meaning of the holiday is always the same — freedom. Freedom is both a blessing and a responsibility.
It seems to me our troops — Jewish and non-Jewish — understand this concept more than most.
At the end of every Seder, we say “Next year in Jerusalem.” I’m sure many of our Jewish troops would consider their hometowns their own special city of gold. So, I hope next year, they are home for Passover.
Hag someach! (Happy holiday!)
 

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