Matzah; bridging Jewish South Dakotans and Ukrainians during Passover

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 10:09 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Religions across the world are preparing to celebrate this weekend.

It’s the middle of Ramadan for Muslims. Christians are preparing for Easter and Buddhists are getting ready to celebrate Songkran.

For the Jewish community in South Dakota, this year’s holiday has a special meaning.

“There’s so much in history that we can always learn from,” said Mendel Alperowitz, South Dakota’s only Rabbi. “And we always have to look at history and see, despite the challenges, despite hardships, there’s always a bright future ahead. And my hope and prayer for the people of Ukraine is they will soon have a bright future.”

For Jewish people, this time of year is a remembrance of their ancestors’ exodus from Egypt.

And this year Alperowitz says he wanted to use the time to help bridge South Dakotans and Ukrainians, through Matzah.

“It really shows how everybody is connected,” continued Alperowitz. “As we sit at our Passover Seders this year and celebrate our freedoms and recognize the great gifts that we have to be free people here in the United States, we remember that there are others who are not as fortunate. There are others who are facing war, facing starvation, their fleeing from their homes.”

Matzah, an unleavened flatbread, is only eaten on the seventh day of the Passover festival.

And although providing it to South Dakotans isn’t new for Alperowitz, he says this year feels special.

“It’s one of the most important and special Jewish holidays,” said Alperowitz. “During the festival, we eat matzah, which is a special unleavened bread that’s eaten at the Passover Sater. And every year we like to bring matzah to every single Jewish home across the state. This year, with the war taking place in Ukraine, I discovered a matzah bakery in Ukraine and I figured it would be a great way to show solidarity and really connect our South Dakota Jewish community with the community in Ukraine.”

Why order the Matzah? Alperowitz says kosher matzah isn’t easily accessible for South Dakota’s 500 Jewish families. He typically orders it comes from Isreal, the Jewish homeland.

The Passover Seder begins Friday, April 15.

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