PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Jewish people around the world begin celebrating Passover Wednesday night, one Philadelphia congregation is preparing to welcome the community to its celebration.
"Passover is a really significant holiday in our history," said Rabbi Yochonon Goldman of B'nai Abraham Chabad synagogue in Center City.
"(Passover is) telling the story of the redemption of the people of Egypt and going out of slavery," said Rabbi Menachem Schmidt, director of Lubavitch House at the University of Pennsylvania.
Lubavitch House and B'nai Abraham Chabad are joining together to host two community Seders on Wednesday and Thursday night, the first two nights of Passover.
Unfortunately, it comes at a time when antisemitism is on the rise both in Pennsylvania and across the county.
"We have to have security, unfortunately," said Schmidt of the services, which encourage guests to RSVP.
Still, members of the community are undeterred in their Passover celebrations.
"When we know who we are and when we're proud of our identity as Jews, then we have nothing to fear," said Goldman.
Seders are rich in Jewish tradition and food, something with which Ronit Treatman, board member of the American Jewish Committee, is very familiar.
"On this plate, we have the symbolic foods of Passover," said Treatman, who has written a book on Jewish foods and traditions as she points to items including a lamb shank, an egg, and horseradish.
The horseradish, she said, is meant to represent the bitterness of slavery from which the Israelites were freed.
"The egg is a symbol of the circle of life," she added.
Many Seders are held at home, but the synagogue in the Society Hill area of Philadelphia expects more people than ever at its community Seders.
The Seders are open to everyone, even those who are not Jewish.
"We say 'All who are hungry come and eat,'" said Goldman.
The tradition unites people over a meal, which involves conversing about what's in the meal and also educating children.
"We actually discuss each item here," said Treatman while gesturing to the plate of traditional Passover foods.
The celebration also includes telling the story of Passover, which still brings hope even in the face of hate.
"A little bit of light pushes out a lot of darkness," said Schmidt. "And you have to start with that."
The community Seders will take place at 7:30 Wednesday and Thursday nights at B'nai Abraham Chabad. Participants are encouraged to RSVP by calling 215-238-2100.
Those who are in need of a Seder can find help here: https://www.chabad.org/.