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New Rochelle Pre-Schoolers Get An Early Lesson On Meaning Of Passover

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Jewish celebration of Passover, or Pesach, begins Monday – marking the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt.

As CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported, 3-year-olds at Beth-El Nursery School in New Rochelle enjoyed their Seder early, enjoying the customary feast on Friday.

“Primarily, it’s known as the holiday of freedom, because it commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt,” said Beth-El Nursery School education director Ronnie Becher.

The pre-schoolers were too young to understand the meaning of Passover. But they were learning through their senses – singing and eating – and it was clear that they knew it was a very special holiday.

“Because we get to spend with families,” said nursery school pupil Juliet Lewis.

Seder customs include partaking in a plate of symbolic foods.

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“Dipping celery into water is my favorite part of Pesach,” one boy said.

The pre-schoolers used greens dipped in water they mixed themselves, to represent the tears the Israelites shed when they were enslaved.

And while adults drink four sips of wine at the Seder, the youngsters drank four cups of grape juice.

“But we can’t eat any chametz,” one girl pointed out.

Chametz, or leavened bread, may not be consumed during Passover and must be removed from the home before the first day of Passover, and are sometimes burned in advance of the holiday.

Unleavened matzo replaces the leavened products.

And the youngsters were excited about the afikomen that is hidden during Seder dinner.

The afikomen is a special piece of matzo at the Seder – hidden in a pouch for the kids to find.

“When we find the matzo, sometimes I get to have a treat,” said pre-schooler Hailey Fiorito.

And for teachers, the treat is watching a fun time turning into a love for the youngsters’ heritage.

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