SALEM, Va. – The Jewish community is celebrating Passover this week — and one congregation is opening its arms to the entire community.
Maynard Keller is an elder at the Hope of Israel Congregation in Roanoke and says they like to host a Passover event for everyone to join in on.
“We always had seders in our homes and then a number of years ago we thought, ‘You know what, a lot of people have not heard the story. And the only way we can do this on a large scale is to open it up to the public.’ And we did that and every single year we’ve sold out,” Keller said.
On Saturday, they hosted nearly 300 people at the Salem Civic Center to partake in a seder meal, or a traditional Passover meal that retells this story with singing, dancing, and food.
“It kinda puts it in a visual format,” Keller said. “You smell the horseradish and you feel these things, but all of these things tell the story of Passover and God’s deliverance of his people.”
Sophie O’Mahony is a part of the congregation’s dance team. They performed for the crowd as a form of worship.
“It gives you opportunities to meet a very diverse group of people,” O’Mahony said. “We’ll have people of all different backgrounds, like I know some people who were raised Mormon, or all of these different people coming together.”
O’Mahony says it’s eye-opening to see people all come together to celebrate the same thing.
“It’s such a beautiful experience, some people at our congregation aren’t even Messianic, they just have that heart for the Jewish people and just seeing everyone come together and worship and praise is really cool,” she said.