If you don’t have matzah, or unleavened bread, for Friday night’s Seder meal to kick off the eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover, Rabbi Moshe Liberow delivers.
This is the 20th year that Liberow, director of the Colorado Springs-headquartered Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Colorado, is traveling far and wide to leave handmade matzah at Jewish homes at no cost.
“We do this to unite the Jewish spark, to find one more Jew,” Liberow said. “One human being can make a big impact in the world, and one Jew is part of the whole of Jewish people.”
The message is even more urgent this year, Liberow said, as many Ukrainian Jews may not be able to celebrate Passover because of the war with Russia.
Chabad rabbis in Ukraine have asked that rabbis around the world seek to fill the customary “fifth son” chair — the person who’s disconnected from the roots of Judaism and doesn’t make it to the Seder — and not leave an empty seat this year.
The eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro is the home of the Menorah Center, billed as the largest Chabad center in the world, which during the war has served as a temporary bomb shelter. The Jewish cultural and business center, which opened in 2012, also houses a Holocaust museum.
Passover celebrates the ancient Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt, as related in Exodus, the second book of the Torah and the Old Testament.
The 15-step Seder feast involves retelling the story of Exodus, sharing ceremonial foods and reciting important prayers.
“It is the replica of how were afflicted,” Liberow said. “We celebrate freedom, but we can’t enjoy freedom until we remember the harder times.”
Liberow’s “Got Matzah” distribution campaign has become more popular each year since he started it in 2002.
“In the last few years, we’ve doubled and tripled our efforts,” he said. “And there’s much more room for growth.”
From word of mouth, Jewish residents from Guffey to Gunnison, from Monument to Trinidad, have requested that they receive the most essential food included on the Seder plate.
Matzah is known as the bread of faith and healing.
“It represents the absolute trust the would be redeemed and liberated from Egypt,” Liberow said. “It has special energies and is a very spiritual food — it nourishes a person’s faith.”
Liberow hands out a special kind of matzah from Israel that’s made by hand, not machine, using wheat grown under strict rabbinical supervision and oversight of the harvest, to ensure the process adheres to Jewish law. Three large rounds of the flatbread are delivered boxed.
The idea, Liberow said, is “wherever a Jew is, is someplace we are there to distribute matzah.”
Through its Roving Rabbis program, Chabad Lubavitch world headquarters in New York City sent volunteer rabbinical students around the nation to help with pre-Passover distribution. Two assisted with southern Colorado’s efforts last week.
The local initiative is part of a Chabad tradition that the Orthodox Jewish Hasidic organization instituted in 1954, encouraging emissaries in local communities to dispense authenticated matzah for the Seder meal.
Regional matzah deliveries are at about 160 and counting, Liberow said.
He will be hitting the matzah trail again on Friday to fulfill complimentary orders from any Jewish person of any background or affiliation who contacts him at 719-634-2345.
“Even though Jewish people do not live close together and are very spread out around southern Colorado, this project gets more successful because people like it,” he said. “Matzah represents freedom, humility and our beginning experiences.”
Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Colorado is hosting a public Passover Seder beginning at 8 p.m. Friday at the synagogue, 6616a Delmonico Drive. The cost is $45 for adults and $35 for children. RSVP at 719-634-2345.
Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.