Jewish community gathers for first-ever chametz burning event before Passover

NEW ALBANY, Ohio (WCMH) — The Jewish holiday of Passover begins next Monday at sundown and Chabad of Columbus is getting ready to celebrate the eight-day festival.

Families gathered at the Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center in New Albany Sunday morning to make matzah and watch a fire juggler in celebration of the organization’s first-ever chametz burning, where the Jewish community burned grain products before Passover begins.

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Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann, the director of Chabad of Columbus, said they wanted to make learning about the history and culture of the pre-Passover tradition fun and exciting with the fire juggler. “We want our kids to enjoy the excitement of being Jewish, to relive the exodus of Passover,” said Rabbi Kaltmann.

The rabbi said foods like bread, pasta and cookies are considered chametz, which are customarily not eaten throughout Passover. He said the burning of chametz symbolizes doing away with the negativity and burdens from the previous year. During the eight days of Passover, the Jewish custom is to eat unrisen bread called Matzah in place of regular bread.

“Chametz is all blown-up. It’s ego-driven. Matzah is very thin, it is very humble. Sometimes we have to become humble, we have to be receptacles of change,” said Rabbi Kaltmann.

Rabbi Kaltmann said Sunday’s event was an exciting way to show kids why Jewish culture is so important, especially since the war between Hamas and Israel began. “We want every single one of our kids here today to enjoy being Jewish, for kids to appreciate how lucky they are to belong to a tradition where we believe in freedom, where we believe in kindness,” said Rabbi Kaltmann.

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Passover celebrates the biblical story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt and Rabbi Kaltmann says with the recent attack on Saturday where Iran launched drone strikes towards Israel, the Jewish community here in central Ohio needs to be as strong as possible.

“The best possible antidote to rising antisemitism is for our kids to be proud Jews,” said the rabbi. Passover starts on Monday, April 22 at sundown and concludes at sundown on April 30. For a list of Passover events happening in central Ohio, click here.

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