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Ancient Rituals Mark Passover in Norwalk

Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht led his children through his newly organized and cleaned Norwalk home Sunday night, looking by candlelight for the unleavened bread they had hidden, a Passover ritual that harkens back to the Jewish people's ancient release from slavery in Egypt. "All Jewish people, all over the world do this," said his wife, Rebbetzin Freida Hecht. "They all do it the same way, wherever they are."

It was the beginning of Passover . "It's a time of eight days of introspection and reflection when a person can sit down and think to themselves, 'What's holding me back in my life?'" said Rebbetzin Hecht. "What's preventing me from being happy? What's preventing me from being alive? What's preventing from doing what I have to do?"

After they cleaned out their home, they went next door to Beth Israel of Westport/Norwalk to conduct the same ceremony. The chometz burning was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday, and the first Passover Seder meal takes place in the evening.

With no leavening, chometz symbolizes the lack of ego. "Matzo is very thin, it doesn't rise, it's very humble," the rabbi said. "We search and seek out the leaven for the negative that is within us. By the light of the candle — the light of the candle is also symbolic of the spirit, of the spiritual search. We're looking for the inner leaven that we may have, the things that we have to correct in ourselves."

Looking for addictions that bind, family relationships that deflate or negative habits is a way of re-creating the freedom the Jewish people felt when they escaped Egypt, according to the Biblical book of Exodus.

"The energy of the Exodus, of liberation, re-creates itself every year at this time," Freida Hecht said. "So in essence a person can at this time, tap into the energy of things that hold themselves back at night. Everybody has something that enslaves them."

How do you celebrate Passover? Comment below.

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