Faith and Family: Temple B’nai Israel to host Passover Seder Dinner March 24

Published 12:26 am Saturday, March 17, 2018

by Sabrina Simms

NATCHEZ — Springtime has great significance to different cultures, but for both Jewish and non-Jewish traditions, it is a time of sacred feasts.

Temple B’nai Israel began its Passover celebration Friday evening with an Oneg Shabbat — a reception that featured traditional music performed by Dr. David Goldblatt and a message by visiting Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser.

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The celebration will continue with a Passover Seder Dinner beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, said Elise Rushing, TBI member and everyone is invited, Jewish or not.

“The community supports the temple,” Rushing said. “We have non-Jewish members who attend other churches in Natchez.”

Rushing said a donation $35 is requested to cover the cost of the meal and contribute to the restoration and upkeep of the temple

“We’re trying to raise more money to keep the temple going,” Rushing said. “When there are no more Jews left in Natchez, we’d like for it to remain open to the public. … We would like for it to be kept open as a museum and also be used for community events. … It’s very community oriented.”

The temple is listed as one of Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Places. Rushing said the temple is a beautiful structure but in dire need of repairs.

The Passover Seder Dinner is a remembrance tradition that symbolically represents the events in Exodus when the Jews were kept as slaves to the Egyptians.

Exodus says that God released a series of 10 plagues on Egypt before the Jews were finally freed — the Passover being the last and worst of them. In the last plague, God takes the firstborn son of every household in Egypt.

God instructs the Jews through his servant Moses to mark their doors with a lamb’s blood so that he would pass over them and spare their houses from the plague.

Each food item in the PSD is symbolic of those events in Exodus. For example, maror — bitter herbs consisting of horseradish, cooked beets and romaine lettuce — represents the harsh years of slavery for the Jews in Egypt.

A hardboiled egg is sometimes dipped in a cup of salt-water to symbolize mourning.

Chicken soup with matzah balls — a dumpling made from matzah meal — will be served during Saturday’s feast. Rushing said the feast is traditionally done at home, however, TBI serves it to gather the community together.

“The Passover Seder Dinner is also used as a homecoming,” Rushing said. “Our children who have moved off to other places come back for this celebration.”

Rushing said the Seder is something everyone should experience and understand, regardless of their religious background.

“I would encourage non-Jewish people to come to share in the experience,” Rushing said. “Christ himself was a Jew and attended the Passover Seder. It’s important for people to see and experience so there are no misunderstandings.”

Rushing said the dinner seats about 70 people, and asks for reservations to be made by calling 504-812-4148 or email to