Vestal (WBNG Binghamton) The Jewish holiday of Passover began at sundown Monday, and many Jewish people will be joining together for Seders -- a sort of interactive meal to remember the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.
Much of the preparation though comes not in cooking, but in cleaning.
"Preparation is exhausting but exhilarating," said Rabbi Shalom Kantor, the Binghamton University Hillel campus rabbi. "We've been preparing for probably five-plus days, cleaning, purging the house of all leavened products."
Some areas of Kantors house look like a construction zone. Sheets cover half of the pantry, sequestering the leavened products from those considered kosher for Passover. Cabinets containing pots and pans that have touched leavened products are taped shut.
Additionally, all surfaces that may have had contact with leavened products are cleansed -- be it by purging with boiling water, as in the case of the counters, or covered like the coils on the gas stove.
Over the course of the seven-day holiday, the Jewish people refrain from eating leavened bread, symbolic of their ancestors' rapid escape from Egypt; there simply wasn't time to add the yeast.
"It's about the process of freedom," Kantor said. "It's about becoming free after being enslaved and what that takes, how God played a role in that and the psychological battle: What does it mean to be a slave? What does it mean to be free?"
Kantor is hosting between 20 and 25 people Monday night. They range from family friends to community members to BU students who aren't away on spring break.
Kantor says the Seder is all about learning and asking questions.
"How can we enhance the Seder?" he said. "How can we make it the most interactive engagement type of educational experience possible so we really feel like we were slaves ourselves and we're coming out on this journey to freedom?"