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What is the meaning of matzah? As we’ll soon see during the sedarim on Pesach, it’s described in the Haggadah both as the bread of affliction (ha lakhma anya) and the bread of freedom (leaving bondage so quickly there was no time for it to rise). Our seder negotiates between celebrating freedom and conceding that in some ways, we remain slaves – hence the concluding proclamation that next year we will be in Jerusalem, as opposed to right now!

In some ways, our current situation mirrors the ambiguity of the matzah itself; we are burdened with the knowledge that our brothers and sisters are still being held in captivity in unbearable conditions, and that the citizens of Israel must contend not only with Hamas in Gaza, but with the very real threat posed by Iran (and its proxies on Israel’s borders). At the same time, we are blessed with at least the possibility of the freedom of the hostages and the victory of Israel over its enemies through the actions of the powerful army of a sovereign Jewish State (with God’s help). In other words, we are living at a time of both affliction and potential redemption, and the matzah we will eat simultaneously expresses both feelings.

Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg teaches that to a large degree, the key difference between the two states is an internal one. He writes: “The difference between slavery and freedom is not that slaves endure hard conditions while free people enjoy ease. The matzah remained equally hard in both states, but the psychology of the Israelites shifted totally. When the unleavened bread was given to them by tyrannical masters, the matzah they ate in passivity was the bread of slavery. But when the Jews willingly went…into the desert because they were determined to be free…the hard crust became the bread of freedom.” (emphasis added).

Needless to say, we are praying for the real freedom of the hostages, the concrete defeat of Hamas, and the actual, physical safety of the citizens of Israel. But the Seder teaches us that our path toward ge’ulah, freedom and redemption, also depends at least in part on the spiritual journey we all must take -- toward activism, determination, and the taking of responsibility for our fate and the fate of our people. Just as our ancestors transformed their consciousness from slaves to free people, a shift embodied by the double meaning of matzah, so too may we experience a similar shift during our own sedarim.

This year, God willing, may those Jews who are held captive be freed bi-m’hera vi-yamenu/speedily and soon, may our people be redeemed from the dangers we face, and may we realize the promise of the holiday – singing with joy together next year in Yerushalayim!

Wishing you a hag kasher ve-sameakh,

Rabbi Adam Rubin

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A conservative synagogue with a modern vision,    combining warmth & beauty from the inside out

Shaare Zion Beth-El (SZBE) is a conservative synagogue as well as a community hub. We offer services for our daily prayer-goers and a variety of exciting monthly programs and events for all ages. We invite you to explore our website to discover all we have to offer.

There is something for everyone at SZBE! #bepartofthetrend

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Discover Everything SZBE Has to Offer


Whether you are reciting Kaddish for a loved one, need a place to pray and reflect or just feel like hanging out with friends or meeting new people, SZBE invites you to join our services twice daily (weekdays and Sundays) as well as Shabbat mornings. Services are followed by breakfast /Kiddush to start your day off right.

Our updated service times can be found in our Prayer tab or HERE

Programming & Learning

At SZBE, we are proud to have a team of dedicated people working to offer a variety of activities and events to people of all age groups. Whether you are 1 or 101, we have something for you to enjoy. We invite you to peruse our Programs & Events Tab and our Ongoing Classes Tab to find activities  designed with you in mind.



SZBE is the perfect place for your lifecycle events. From Brit Milah to Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and weddings, our beautiful Sanctuary holds up to 1200 people and is an exquisite room for ceremonies of all sizes. Our social halls can accomodate your parties, receptions, conferences and more.

Check our LIFECYCLE tab to find out what SZBE can offer your family.


While we offer something for everyone, there are definite benefits of membership at SZBE. If you are thinking about affiliation, if you are planning a Simcha, if you just need a place to call your second-home, we would love to show you around and discuss how becoming a member of our family is right for you.

Contact us or complete our Membership Form and we will be in touch to invite you to see SZBE


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Sat, 20 April 2024 12 Nisan 5784