Leavened bread burned in Woodmere, Long Island ahead of tonight's Passover observance

Chanteé Lans Image
Monday, April 22, 2024
Leavened bread burned on Long Island ahead of Passover observance
Chantee Lans has more on "Burning of the Chametz" bread ceremony from Woodmere.

WOODMERE, Nassau County (WABC) -- The crackling of the fire is a sacred tradition ahead of Passover.

"After 11:45 you cannot own any Chametz, which is anything of bread, and burn it and you can't have it in your possession and sell it," said Shlomo Golding, a resident of Cedarhurst.

It's the reason why the Long Island town of Woodmere is hosting its annual "Burning of the Chametz" event, assisting Jewish neighbors in their preparations for the Passover holiday.

Cedarhurst resident Devorah Messing is one of many who enjoys attending the event.

"Only one person has to come per family, but I love doing it," Messing said.

Mark Appel, one of the participants, says the event is an important tradition in Passover.

"It's an incredible event where the community gets together and celebrates a holiday, a festival to burn all of the bad stuff, all of our omens, all of our evil," Appel said.

This is the 20th year that the Woodmere Fire Department has offered what's called a controlled burn. It gives people a safe space to burn their bread.

What started with 1,000 attendees has quickly grown to 4,000-5,000 people each year.

"It's very nice the service they provide to the community," Woodmere resident Avraham Shanin said. "It's a good time for the kids, safe and really enjoyable for the family."

There are extra prayers this Passover amid the Israel-Hamas war.

"I just keep thinking about all of the hostages that are sitting who knows where," Messing said.

Marcel Scheinman of Woodmere adds, "it's been weighing very heavy on everyone."

Hempstead Councilwoman Melissa Miller, who grew up nearby and is Jewish, says celebrating Passover amid ongoing protests at Columbia University while a Rabbi encouraging all Jewish students to leave campus for their safety is troubling.

"With the amount of antisemitism, it's shocking and it's horrendous," Miller said.

Miller called out the Ivy League school for making all classes virtual on Monday.

"I'm actually confused and bewildered. I do not understand why they're allowing that. Instead make virtual classes? That's not stopping the behavior," she said.

Gatherings like these in Woodmere offer a continued sense of safety on Long Island.

"Especially in this day and age when being Jewish is not the most comfortable everywhere, here we still feel this sense of security and community," Scheinman said.

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