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Passover returns to the Bay Area for in-person celebrations for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) — Millions of people will gather around the world on Friday evening to celebrate Passover — the festival commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Here in the Bay Area, Rabbi Dovber Berokwitz said preparations were underway at Contra Costa’s Chabad all week.

It is the first time that the holiday has been celebrated in person since the start of the pandemic.

In recent years, people have relied on take-out Passover boxes with a traditional meal inside.

RELATED: Jewish Community Adapts to Virtual Passover Seder During COVID-19 Pandemic

But observing the Passover is not just about honoring religious traditions. It is also a way of preserving Jewish culture.

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

The rabbi says the holiday is also about breaking down barriers — not just physical, as in the original story, but also emotional and spiritual.

“That’s really what life is about. Growth, development, breaking 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 use, imported directly from the war-torn nation of Ukraine.

“Has a special message of resilience. You know, with all the trouble they’re going through, they always observe this holiday,” he said.

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

“Do I look at this faith, the heritage, the beauty of something unique in this culture that we could really share and inspire.”

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