Passover returns to Bay Area for in-person celebrations for 1st time since start of coronavirus pandemic

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) — On Friday night, millions will gather around the world to celebrate Passover – the festival commemorating the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Here in the Bay Area, Rabbi Dovber Berokwitz says preparations have been underway at the Chabad of Contra Costa all week.

It’s the first time celebrating the holiday in person since the start of the pandemic.

The last few years, people relied on made-to-go Passover boxes with a traditional meal inside.

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But observing Passover isn’t just about honoring religious traditions. It’s also a way to preserve Jewish culture.

“Really the story of Passover is not just a story for very religious people. It really symbolizes freedom,” said Rabbi Berkowitz.

The rabbi says the holiday is also about breaking down barriers – Not just physical ones, like in the original story, but also emotional and spiritual.

“Which is really what life is all about. Growth, development, breaking out of boundaries, doing new things, becoming a better person than I was yesterday,” Rabbi Berowitz said.

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The rabbi says that message is personified this year in particular with the special matzo they’re using, imported directly from the war-torn nation of Ukraine.

“Has a special message of resilience. You know, in the face of all the trouble that they’re going through, they’re still observing this holiday, ” he said.

So, some 3,000 years later, Rabbi Berkowitz says Passover remains as important as ever as a reminder to keep moving forward, while still remembering the lessons of the past.

“Am I looking into that faith, the heritage, the beauty really of something unique in this culture that we could really share and inspire.”

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