Thursday 4 June, 2020

Cayman's Jewish Community celebrates Passover under curfew

Rabbi Berel Pewzner providing Passover supplies to members of Cayman's Jewish Community

Rabbi Berel Pewzner providing Passover supplies to members of Cayman's Jewish Community

This year, the 500-strong Jewish Community of the Cayman Islands will celebrate the holiday of Passover or Pesach during lockdown and shelter in place orders.

The Jewish holiday that commemorates the exodus of the Israelites after 400 years of slavery, takes place from April 8 to April 16. The first Seder or traditional feast that includes reading, eating special foods, drinking wine, singing, telling stories, takes place after nightfall on Wednesday April 8.

The Seder is usually celebrated as a community activity with involvement from all who are in attendance. With the curfew that is taking place during the evening hours in Cayman, families will have to celebrate in a more insular fashion.

This is according to Rabbi Berel Pewzner who along with his wife Rikal, lead Cayman’s Jewish community. The couple have played an active role in the development of an active synagogue, Hebrew School and Jewish Community Centre in the Cayman Islands over the past ten years.

“We have a very active Jewish community on island, with approximately 500 Jewish persons on island year round, and many more that own vacation homes and business here,” explained Rabbi Pewzner. “During a normal year, the eight-day Jewish holiday Passover would be celebrated in Cayman by the members of the Jewish community with a communal Seder gathering and a shared meal.”

“The communal gathering can’t happen this year due to the curfew, but the celebration will continue with each family holding their own family Seder in their homes,” said Rabbi Pewzner, who provided a “physically distanced but socially connected” distribution of unleavened bread, called matza, wine and Hagadah prayer booklets for the local community’s family Seders.

The Rabbi also offered a pre-Seder Zoom session with a step-by-step Seder Do It Yourself presentation.

“We have been distributing food to the needy, elderly and homebound ensuring that all will be able to celebrate Passover in the best possible manner during these extraordinary times,” explained the Rabbi with regards to the traditional spring cleaning and removal of “chametz” or foods with leavening agents that are forbidden during Passover.

“Leading Rabbis have called for people to relax on the spring cleaning and simply do a basic cleaning and storage of the bread and Chametz leavened products,” said Rabbi Pewzner.

Passover begins in Cayman with candle lighting at 6.23 pm this evening and ritual elements of the Seder after 7.05 pm this evening.

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