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Break Out The Matzo: Passover Has Begun

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Sundown on Monday marked the start of Passover for Jews around the world.

Families all across the Tri-State area were set to take part in a traditional Seder on Monday evening.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, Passover starts with shopping for many.

“Chicken soup, chopped liver, of course matzo,” one woman shopping on the Upper West Side said.

MORE: 5 Delicious Ways To Celebrate Passover

Streits on the Lower East Side ramped up matzo production ahead of the holiday.

“The second the water and the flour touch, the whole process has to be done within 18 minutes,” said Streits President Aaron Gross. “You can’t give the bread time to rise.”

Matzo symbolizes the bread that didn’t have time to rise when Israelites made their exodus from Egypt.

Traditions fill the eight-day holiday. During the Seder, Jews eat and retell the story of their liberation from centuries of slavery.

“We say in the Seder that we were there. It wasn’t just like our ancestors there,” Eitan Richter said. “No, we were actually there — us, too, were actually there.”

As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, the Rosenblatts were hard at work Monday in their Manhattan kitchen preparing for dinner. The table was set for 42 people — including several survivors of the Holocaust.

“During the dinner, we read the story of Passover … and then at the end of reading the story, we eat,” said Barbara Rosenblatt. “Everyone celebrates.”

In addition to cooking brisket, matzo ball soup and other delicacies, Jews remove bread and any other leavened products from their homes during the eight-day holiday.

“It’s cleaning every cabinet, every drawer, every nook and cranny of your house,” one woman told Haskell.

“Depending on how strict you are, people switch their dishes and make sure that there’s no chametz, which is anything made from a bread product,” another woman added.

In Teaneck, N.J., on Monday morning, hundreds of Jews participated in an annual burning of the bread event.

“The idea of burning … is seen in Jewish law as the most definite way of destroying something,” organizer Rabbi Lawrence Zierler told CBS 2’s Don Champion.

The burning came hours before sundown and the beginning of Passover.

Rabbi Zierler said the burn is about bringing people together.

“You can sometimes be off in your own corner of the community, belong to your own congregation,” Zierler, the rabbi of the Jewish Center of Teaneck, said. “This has actually caused people to come from different places.”

Over the years, the Teaneck burn event has grown and is now kid-friendly, including a show-and-tell put on by the local fire department.

“For me as a rabbi, that’s the best moment: When I see everyone gathering together and when I see children lingering and stopping and wanting to meet other children,”  Zierler said.

There were also bread-burning events in eight locations in Borough Park and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Monday, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.

Families collected all the leavened bread products in their homes Sunday night and brought them to the controlled burn sites Monday.

“As we gather them, the next day we burn them,” Rabbi Joseph Potasnik told Papa. “This is in keeping with the commandment (that) you should have no chametz, no leavened ingredients, during Passover in your home.”

Burning of the bread in Borough Park, Brooklyn ahead of Passover, April 14, 2014. (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Burning of the bread in Borough Park, Brooklyn ahead of Passover, April 14, 2014. (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

The most important tradition for many, though, is simply coming together.

“At the end of dinner, we sing a song in Yiddish about the different plagues, so the whole family sings a song,” Rosenblatt said.

The start of Passover comes just a day after three people were fatally shot at a Jewish Community Center and a retirement community in Overland Park, Kan.

Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, was taken into custody in connection with the incident. Miller is believed to be a former KKK grand dragon. There were reports that he shouted anti-Semitic slurs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio offered their condolences. The NYPD has already heightened security ahead of Jewish holidays and noted in a recent briefing that there are no specific threats.

“The NYPD is taking all steps to ensure the safety and security of Jewish individuals and institutions as Passover is being ushered in,” the mayor said.

Passover ends April 22.

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