Jacksonville prepares for Passover amid heightened significance amid war in Israel

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As Passover approaches, the Jewish community in Jacksonville is gearing up for a holiday that carries heightened significance amidst the ongoing conflict in Israel.


Passover, the eight-day festival commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, is set to begin on Monday, April 22, and end on Tuesday, April 30.

This year, Chabad of Jacksonville-Town Center is leading efforts to ensure the community can observe the holiday with meaning and reflection.

“This year, the Jewish community finds added significance in Passover, which is known as the Festival of Freedom,” remarked Rabbi Shmuli Novack, director of Chabad of Jacksonville-Town Center. “Amid rising antisemitism around the country, it’s more important than ever that Jews turn to and embrace our tradition, faith, and our Jewish pride.”

Rabbi Novack, who recently returned from a solidarity and volunteering trip to Israel with community members, emphasizes the importance of this year’s Passover observance.

“At this fraught time, Passover holds heightened significance for Florida’s Jews, many of whom are Israeli and others who are impacted by the ongoing war,” said Novack. “The distressing rise in antisemitism, as well as the ongoing crisis of the 135 hostages in Hamas captivity, give a new meaning to the Passover holiday.”

In response to these challenges, the Chabad Center will host two communal seders, and ritual-filled dinners on the first two nights of Passover, on Monday, April 22, at 7:45 pm, and Tuesday, April 23, at 8:45 pm.

These seders, which include a retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, a full-course meal, handmade matzah, and a selection of wines, offer an opportunity for the community to come together in solidarity. All are welcome to join the community seder, regardless of Jewish affiliation or background. Reservations can be made online.

As part of the preparation for Passover, the Chabad Center of Jacksonville-Town Center will also host a film screening and interview session with Rabbi Shmuli Novack discussing the situation in Israel.

The event will take place on April 22, 2024, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Chabad of Jacksonville-Town Center, located at 11271 Alumni Way Suite 1, Jacksonville, FL 32246.

For more information and to RSVP for the seder, please visit the Chabad of Jacksonville-Town Center website.

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