TWIN FALLS — At sunset Friday, Jews around the world will begin celebrating the week-long holiday of Passover with the first Seder.
The Sader is a feast including reading the Haggadah, drinking wine and eating special food. Passover, also known as Pesach, is a celebration of Jews liberation from Egyptian slavery.
The holiday, local rabbi Tony Prater said, represents more than just retelling the story of Exodus. It is about freedom and for the growing Jewish congregation in the Magic Valley, it means coming together as a community.
“Passover is about remembering that it’s okay to fight for freedom,” Prater said. “The last line of any Seder is ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ It means that the next year the world might be better.”
Since Twin Falls has no synagogue, members of Beth Chaverim — the name for Twin Falls’ Jewish congregation — often meet at the home of Prater and his wife, Robin Dober. During the first couple of Seders, there were around eight people, now 30 are coming, Prater said.
“‘Beth Chaverim’ means ‘house of friends,’” Prater said. “I can’t think of anything better than that.”
A traditional Passover Seder plate includes matzah, egg, parsley and lamb. But every Seder is different and has its own flair. Prater puts an orange in the middle of the table to serve as a reminder of that difference. He doesn’t view
The Twin Falls Jewish congregation is made of Orthodox, Reform and Humanistic Judaism. All of these groups come together to form one community.
“I don’t live where it’s traditional,” Prater said. “I’m the only Jew you’ll see in jeans and cowboy boots.”
Not having a synagogue can be challenging for some. Jill Skeem moved from Boston to Twin Falls. The smaller Jewish community was a surprise for her, but she has grown to appreciate it. Now, she uses online streaming to watch holiday services.
“You’re reminded of the history of your people,” Skeem said. “It’s great repeating a story. It helps you revisit your past. It reminds you of family and where you come from.”
For anyone curious about Passover, Prater always makes sure there is room for more.
“We always set out an extra plate because you never know who’ll show up,” Prater said.