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Power of Passover





With just a handful of Jewish families living in Hays, Patricia Levy has had to adapt. It doesn't stop her from observing her faith's religious holidays, such as Passover, with its eight days of observance ending today.

There is no synagogue in town. A minyan is needed for public religious services. A minyan is a quorum comprised of 10 males, 13 or older, who are present in order to have a service. In some non-Orthodox versions of Judaism, females are included in the minyan.

Levy, who has taught social work at Fort Hays State University since 2001, has Friday night prayers either with friends or alone.

"I try to live my Judaism," Levy said. "If I don't have a congregation to pray with, I do Friday nights by myself.

"You live it, you practice it. There's another couple here I'm very close to. We often do Friday nights together."

Levy occasionally goes to a synagogue in Wichita or Topeka.

"For high holy days in the fall, I usually try to get to a synagogue somewhere," Levy said last week as she was preparing for Passover Seder.

A Seder is a ritual dinner on the first night of Passover with family. The second night of Passover, some have a Seder with friends, Levy said.

At the Seder, participants use a book called the Haggadah to tell the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, according to the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible.

The word "seder" means "order" in Hebrew. There are 15 parts of the ritual service at Passover. At Passover dinner, there is wine as well as symbolic foods eaten. Some of the food was prepared by Levy, while some was purchased in Topeka. Included on the menu was lamb, matzo ball soup and gefilte fish.

The dinnerware and glasses are special. Traditionally, they are not to be used for everyday meals.

"You're supposed to have three sets of dishes for the year," Levy said. "If you keep kosher, one set is for dairy, and one set is for meat meals, and the third set especially for Passover.

"I do try to keep kosher, and generally try not to mix meat with milk, especially beef with milk."

Levy likes Passover for what it means to her faith.

"For me, it was my favorite holiday growing up," Levy said. "I really like the story.

"To me, it's a holiday about freedom. After the crossing of the Red Sea that leads to Mount Sinai, where they got the 10 commandments," she added. "I like the story, I like the Seder."

Levy, who is divorced, has two sons. One lives in Israel with his family, and the other lives in Texas with his family. They were not there for Passover dinner, but Levy planned to have 14 friends attend.

"Usually, the men lead the service, I just do the cooking," Levy said with a laugh.

Levy said Jewish people know their religion is not for everybody.

"We have so many religions in the world, but not everybody was meant to be a Jew," she said.