HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-One of the landmark yearly events for Jews in north Alabama and around the world begins Monday evening.
Passover officially commences at sunset Monday. It's a time for families to gather together and remember religious roots that stretch back more than 3,000 years.
"Basically it tells us the story of the exodus," said Huntsville resident Max Rosenthal, who attends Etz Chayim synagogue. "It reminds us that we were once slaves in Egypt, so freedom is a very important thing."
Dozens of Jewish families at the synagogue are marking the beginning of Passover, which often coincides with Easter and other Holy Week events for Christians. The name for the holiday can be found in the book of Exodus, which states that the angel of death passed over the home of every Israelite who marked their door frame with blood from a sacrificial lamb. According to the account, the firstborn male in every Egyptian family was killed due to the Pharoah's refusal to let the enslaved Israelites go, who were spared.
Many Jews view the first night of Passover as the most important due to the long-honored tradition of a family meal called the Seder.
"The main thing of the meal, the Seder, is the retelling of the story of Exodus," said Rosenthal. "We want to be sure not only do our children know the story, but all the adults are reminded of the story."
The traditional Passover meal includes unleavened bread, which is symbolic of the Israelites not having enough time to bake it before they left Egypt. It was the end of their 400 year stay in a land not their own. Rosenthal said it emphasizes Passover's other main purpose.
"It reminds us also that it's very important for us to be neighborly to all our people in the city that we live in."
Passover lasts a total of eight days. Christians believe that the Last Supper recorded in the New Testament was actually a Passover feast Jesus Christ was marking with his disciples.