NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Jewish celebration of Passover begins Friday at sundown.
The eight-day celebration marks the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.
“It celebrates freedom – freedom from being a slave, freedom from bondage,” Rabbi Naftali Lewin explained.
Family and friends gather on the first two nights for a Passover Seder. The ritual involves six symbolic foods, including matzo, which symbolizes bread that didn’t have time to rise due to the haste with which the Israelites fled Egypt.
Volunteers at the Masbia soup kitchen in Borough Park set up tables and prepared traditional foods ahead of the seder, where they’ll serve 50 hungry, needy people who might not otherwise have a place to go.
“They are the poor, the destitute,” volunteer Yosef Rapoport said. “Here, they come tonight and they are treated like kings and queens – as it should be.”
Last-minute shoppers packed Zabar’s on the Upper West Side picking up orders.
“It’s a zoo, it’s an absolute zoo,” one man said.
“I’m actually picking up the seder for my grandparents. This is where they always like to get it,” said a woman. “I’m picking it up and bringing it to them in New Jersey.”
The rush was on at Shop Delight in Great Neck, too.