Passover Reflections: Using inner strength to make real change


By Rabbi Yehuda Appelbaum
Jacksonville Community Kollel


The Jewish month of Nissan is the month of freedom for the Jewish people. It's not only considered the first month of the Jewish calendar year in many regards, but it also signifies the month in which the Jewish nation was born.


On the night of Passover, we tell over the story of the exodus with great enthusiasm; we don’t just relate the story, we try to make it come alive. We get the entire family involved, as this is not just some historical event that happened to our ancestors, but rather it’s the story of who we are as a people. We relive the experience so that our children will internalize the lessons and hopefully do the same for their children, passing on the tradition that has been with our people ever since those miraculous days.


As we tell the story of how we went from slavery to freedom, we should recognize that this is also a very practical lesson for us; just like we were granted freedom on a national level during the month of Nissan, this time of year also possesses the inspiration to help us achieve freedom on an individual level as well.


In Hebrew the word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which means “bound” or “restrained”. This signifies the restraints we experience in our lives. We all have the challenges that restrain us and hold us back from being the people we want to be. If we want to be successful in life, we need to break through these obstacles and not let them hold us back.


Success is about breaking through the fences that seem to be holding us back from utilizing our inner strengths and capabilities. Sometimes we prefer living in the “comfort” of our routines and not trying to push for more. We need to remember that growth can only be achieved by going beyond our comfort zone; if we become too complacent, then we are not growing.


We all have areas where we really want to improve yet we are intimidated by the process of make any real change. It's this time of year that brings with it the message of those who came before us to inspire us in making those changes a reality.


Rabbi Yehuda Appelbaum is a member of the Jacksonville Community Kollel, which strives to strengthen Jewish continuity by providing adult Jewish education throughout the community. Rabbi Appelbaum studied at The Jerusalem Kollel in Israel where he received Rabbinic ordinance from Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz. He is passionate about Jewish unity and providing all Jews with the opportunity to learn about our heritage. Rabbi Appelbaum moved to Jacksonville this past summer with his wife Rivky and their two adorable little girls.


Rabbi Yehuda Appelbaum can be reached at

Celebrate this Passover at a Community Seder


The highlight of Passover is the Seder, a 15-step, family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast. Many families have a Seder the first two nights of the festival. It is customary to extend an invitation to at least one person who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a Seder. Looking to attend a Seder? Try one of the community Seders below or email to be matched with a host.


Beth El Sisterhood to host Miriam’s Seder

Beth El The Beaches Synagogue Sisterhood invites the public to our Miriam’s Seder on Tuesday, April 9 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Miriam’s Seder is an annual event where the Beth El Sisterhood celebrates the Passover story of Miriam. 

“Each year it is a beautiful celebration with food, song and friends,” Sisterhood Co-President Bobby Adler said. “Everyone in the community loves how we dedicate the evening to honoring the women in attendance and to all those women who have touched our lives,” Bobby added.
The special Passover event is shared with the women of Palms Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville Beach. “It adds to the special evening having women of a different religious background with us,” said Vickie Kennedy, Sisterhood Co-President. “It opens up such a lively discussion and so much is learned.” Men and women are invited to attend the Seder. 

Miriam’s Seder will be held at Beth El The Beaches Synagogue, 288 N. Roscoe Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach. For reservations, visit, or contact Bobby Adler at for more information. 


Congregational Passover Seder at Temple Bet Yam

Temple Bet Yam is pleased to invite you to our traditional Congregational Passover Seder led by Rabbi Nadia Siritsky. The Seder will be held at TBY, 2055 Wildwood Drive, St. Augustine, on Friday, April 19, at 6 p.m. All are welcome. 

The cost for adult members and their guests is $36 each, $15 each for children 12 and under, and $46 for non-members. Please let us know by April 5 how many of each will be attending, and send a check for the total amount payable to Temple Bet Yam, P.O. Box 860098, St. Augustine, FL 32086. Vegetarian meals will be provided if indicated. Call 904-819-1875 for more information. We look forward to a delightful and meaningful Seder.


There is a seat for everyone at Temple’s Seder table

Congregation Ahavath Chesed (The Temple) will host a Passover Seder on Friday, April 19 at 6 p.m. The Seder will be preceded by Erev Shabbat worship, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“At Temple, we take pride in welcoming all who enter our doors: Jews by birth, Jews by choice, interfaith families and friends of all faiths,” explains Senior Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar. “Everyone is welcome at our Temple table to celebrate the Seder with lots of food, friends and fun.”

Reservations are required by close of business on Friday, April 12. Call the Temple office (904-733-7078) or Families of 4 (2 adults and 2 children, 13 and under) are $100. Adults are $39. Children 4-13 are $18, and children 3 and under are free.


Chabad Northeast Florida Communal Pesach Seders

Reservations are required. Please call your local Chabad to make reservations.

Beaches (904-543-9301): April 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. (following prayer Services)

St. Augustine (904-521-8664): Friday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. 

St. Johns (904-701-4422): Friday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 20 at 8:15 p.m.

Southside (904-646-4434): Friday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 20 at 8 p.m.

Clay County (904-290-1017): Friday, April 19 at 7:30 PM


Passover Seder in St. Augustine to be led by Rabbi Joel Fox

First Congregation Sons of Israel, a conservative egalitarian congregation, will hold a Passover Seder on Saturday, April 20. Mincha service will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by Seder at 6 p.m. Both will be led by Rabbi Joel Fox. The Seder meal will be prepared lovingly and deliciously by congregation members. Because of success and attendance last year, reservations will be capped at 70. 

First Congregation Sons of Israel is located at 161 Cordova Street, St. Augustine, just south of the Lightner Museum. RSVP before April 10 to For ticket information, contact Karen Stern at 904-824-2638, or the synagogue office at 904-829-9532.