Attending synagogue for holiday religious services can sometimes be a challenge for members of the Jewish community stationed at U.S. military installations around Germany.

With just one military rabbi in Germany — stationed in the Kaiserslautern Military Community — large collective observances just aren’t possible.

And that’s no different with Passover, which starts Saturday at sundown.

But Jewish military families will still celebrate, said Rabbi Donald Levy, a U.S. Air Forces in Europe chaplain.

“In most religious communities, you gather in the house of worship for the big holidays. For Jews, you typically gather at home and do the Passover Seder,” said Levy, the KMC rabbi.

Unlike other, more synagogue-based Jewish holidays, such as Yom Kippur, Passover centers on the Seder — a family dinner filled with symbolism and ritual.

Passover is an eight-day holiday that celebrates the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. The Seder happens on the first two days and includes special foods. During the banquets, the biblical account of the Israelites’ liberation from bondage is shared.

Levy, who holds weekly services at the Ramstein Southside Synagogue on Fridays at 7 p.m., said there are about 70 members of the congregation. Some of those members travel from nearby Army and Air Force bases in Baumholder and Spangdahlem to attend services.

However, for Jews stationed at far-flung bases, local lay leaders help families practice their faith and mark the holy days, according to the New York-based Jewish Welfare Board Chaplains Council. The organization, which is part of the Jewish Community Center system, functions as the endorsing body for Jewish military chaplains who serve in the armed forces.

Militarywide, there are about 73 lay leaders. As of December, there were six operating in Europe, the group reported.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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