USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines of the Jewish faith came together to celebrate Passover Seder aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) on the evening of April 11.
Cmdr. Joel D. Newman, a Rabbi from Naval Base Coronado, visited Enterprise and hosted the Seder in the commanding officer's in-port cabin.
"Passover is a holiday that lasts eight days," said Newman. "During the Passover holiday, there is a special service that takes place in the home, which, in this case, is the ship. That service is called the Passover Seder."
Newman said Seder occurs once, or sometimes twice, during the eight-day holiday. The Seder is a meal that is usually prepared kosher. The purpose of the Seder is to retell the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.
"It is our way of celebrating the freedom of the Jews and the fact that our people aren't in slavery anymore," said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Kyle Z. Shankle, an Enterprise Sailor.
Sailors read from a book called the Passover Hagaddah as they gathered around the dining tables. The Hagaddah opens and reads from right to left, the same as Hebrew.
There are certain traditional rituals that occur during the meal. Everything is done in an orderly fashion. Sailors and Marines recited prayers, songs and scripture in both Hebrew and English.
Each food item presented at the Seder represents something, and serves a specific purpose. For instance, a hard-boiled egg represents rebirth and a cup of water represents the healing waters of the prophetess Miriam's well, as recorded in Scripture.
Because Israelites were farmers and shepherds in ancient times, it is meant for people to feel a connection with the food eaten and harvested from the land on Passover.
Another tradition involves the act of dipping foods as a reminder of the Pascal Offering that delivered the Jews from death in Egypt. Those Jews dipped a bunch of hyssop into the blood of sacrificial lambs, and painted it on their doorposts, so that the angel of death would "pass over" their homes. In remembrance of this, the Seder was served with a cup of salt water for dipping.
A glass of wine was also served at the Seder. This was instead of the usual four glasses. Wine represents joy, and a drop of joy was removed from the glass of wine for each plague that God brought upon Egypt, according to Scripture.
The Seder was also served with a slice of orange, an apple and nut mixture, and various other items including matzah (unleavened bread).
"It is usually a little bit longer and a little more of the Torah is read at our Seders back home, but the people and atmosphere that we had here felt a lot like home," said Shankle.
"It is a privilege to celebrate Seder on the Enterprise," said Newman. "For the command to support it is a huge evolution. For them to support me with the COD (carrier onboard delivery), turnover the chaplain's staff, offer the commanding officer's cabin, and help with cooks is a lot for such a small group of people. This is one of the best I have ever had."
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