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Devorah Raskin, the school’s director and teacher, prepares to take a matza to the oven. Photo by Patty McCormac
Rancho Santa Fe Lead Story

Students get hands-on Passover history lesson

RANCHO SANTA FE — The students from the Rancho Santa Fe Hebrew School got a hands-on lesson in Passover recently by turning their classroom into a matza factory, with flour and all.While they were rolling out the dough and baking, they learned a little about their Jewish heritage from Rabbi Levi Raskin and their teacher Devorah Raskin, who is also the director of the school.“It’s the introduction to our Passover lesson,” she said.

Jordan Pearson with her hand in the air, knows the answer to a question about Passover. Standing to her right are Amaya Mersky (far left) and Aaron Benedek. Photo by Patty McCormac

Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival celebrating that more than 2,000 years ago, the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

In the next several weeks, Devorah Raskin will teach her students the story and beliefs surrounding the holiday and about the special foods eaten at the Passover Sedar, such as bitter root to symbolize the bitterness of slavery; using saltwater to symbolize the tears of the Israelites; and the unleavened cracker-like matza to symbolize the haste in which they left Egypt, so quickly, there was no time for their bread to rise.

Lending the Rabbi a hand in the bakery were Aaron Benedek as the “water boy,” and Jordan Pearson and Amaya Mersky, as “flour girls,” who help measure the proper proportions of baking ingredients. Then all the children took small balls of the dough and rolled them out until they were flat and thin. Next they were baked quickly and returned to their creators.

“When we eat matza, we know what it means,” Rabbi Raskin said.

The students are also learning songs to sing at their Passover Sedar.

While the holiday is filled with history and heritage, it is also a time to get together with family.

“I get to see my cousins,” said Ron Arbib, 11. “They live in L.A. We get to eat matza.”

Ron’s brother Ofek (cq), 12, said Passover is one of his favorite holidays.

Josh Sirota, 12, said it is one of his favorite holidays as well.

“I love to get together with family and friends and celebrate the Jewish heritage and to remember to be thankful we are free,” Josh said.

Rabbi Levi Raskin (center) gives a lesson in Jewish Heritage to the children of the Hebrew School in Rancho Santa Fe while they are making matza. Serving as the “water boy” Aaron Benedek (left) and “flour girls” Amaya Mersky and Jordan Pearson learn about the process. Photo by Patty McCormac

Besides learning about Jewish heritage and getting together with friends and family, it’s fun, said Aaron Benedek, 9.

“You get to spend time with family,” said Yarin Arbib, 11. “It happens on

Spring Break and we are going to visit family.”

Passover begins April 6. The Chabad Jewish Center of Rancho Santa Fe will celebrate with a community Sedar at Morgan Run Resort, 5690 Cancha De Golf, Rancho Santa Fe.

To learn more, call (858) 756-7571 or visit