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Jews Mark First Night Of Passover

(credit: Ira Block/Getty Images)

(credit: Ira Block/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Passover began at sunset Monday.

Passover is an eight-day festival where Jews mark the exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Many Jews eat only unleavened bread during the holiday. That’s to remember the time when their ancestors left Egypt in such a hurry their bread did not have time to rise.

“The reason we eat the matzah for seven days is because when they left Egypt, they left in such a rush, in such a haste, that the dough didn’t have a chance to rise,” Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasnianski told CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian.

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The dinner celebration is known as the Seder. Besides retelling the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, the Seder is a time when the whole family gets together for a festive meal.

Rabbi Krasnianski and his wife, Chanie, had been up since dawn Monday. Their nine children helped participate in preparing for the Seder dinner, which is held the first two nights.

The family belongs to an organization called Chabad. It educates people about Jewish traditions and holidays.

From the wisest to the youngest, they boiled hundreds of eggs, ripped dozens of heads of lettuce and baked trays of fish for their family and their guests. The family also opened up their home to 150 people, including 40 young professionals.

“Really we just want them to feel like they are part of a young community,” said Yosef Wilhlem, of the Chabad Upper East Side.

The holiday also emphasizes humility, freedom, family, friends and community.