Jewish communities at military installations in Japan have planned a variety of events this weekend to mark the Passover holiday, commemorating the Jews’ exodus from Egypt about 3,500 years ago.

The events primarily center on a special dinner called a Seder, held on the first two nights of the eight-day holiday.

This year, Passover begins Saturday night; many communities are holding Seder on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Seder is a meal with a variety of symbolic and ritual observances, held in a special order, according to Lt j.g. Tobe A. Pilato, Yokosuka Naval Base Jewish lay leader. The word Seder means “order” in Hebrew.

During the eight-day holiday, Jews follow specific dietary restrictions including not eating any leavened bread products. They eat special flat bread called matzah and other foods without yeast or baking powder.

The restriction on leavened bread is a reminder that when Moses and the Jews left Egypt, they were in such a hurry to escape they couldn’t allow their bread time to rise.

Passover runs Saturday through sundown May 1.

The following are some of the events planned in the Pacific to celebrate the holiday:

Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan: The ritual Passover Sabbath meal and services will be held at the Chapel of Hope at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The first community potluck Seder will be held at the Chapel of Hope at 7 p.m. Saturday and the second at 5:15 p.m. Sunday. The events are open to all. For information or to RSVP, contact Lt. j.g. Tobe Pilato at DSN 243-5385.

Camp Zama, Japan: Zama and surrounding bases will hold a Seder on Sunday, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Zama Chapel fellowship hall. Participants are asked to bring a dish, preferably staples such as matzah ball soup, tzimmes, vegetables, Pareve side dishes, main meat courses and Passover desserts. Many community members at Zama also plan to travel to Yokosuka for the first night Seder. For information about visiting Yokosuka from Zama or about the Zama Seder, e-mail Laura Dadswell at

Sasebo Naval Base, Japan: The Passover Seder will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Fellowship Hall of the Community and Education Center. Active-duty servicemembers, family members and civilian personnel are invited to participate. Call Ensign Nick Parker at 252-1212 for information.

Misawa Air Base, Japan: Since the Jewish lay leader transferred, no events have been scheduled. However, the chapel can accommodate anyone interested in holding a Seder. Contact the chapel at DSN 226-4630 for information.

South Korea: There are two Seder dinners, Saturday and Sunday, at the 8th Army Religious Retreat Center on Namsan Mountain. Both dinners required reservations and are full. For more information, contact Lt. Col. Brett Oxman at 725-6009.

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