VACAVILLE — Jews around the world this week begin their remembrance and celebration of being led out of Egyptian slavery.
The eight-day festival of Passover starts Friday with the first Seder after sundown. The second Seder is Saturday at nightfall. The Seder meals include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs and retelling the story of the Exodus.
Passover specifically refers to when the children of Israel were spared the 10th and final plague on Egypt, the killing of their firstborn, a plague of death that passed over their homes.
In addition to the holiday, the Chabad of Solano County is also celebrating its 10th anniversary in Vacaville, a milestone recently recognized by the Board of Supervisors.
“The Jewish community has a long history in Solano County. The first noted husband and wife was in 1853 and they established themselves in Vacaville,” Supervisor John Vasquez said after the board had adopted a resolution recognizing the 10th anniversary of the Chabad of Solano County.
Vasquez went on to say that despite many attempts to organize the Jewish community in Solano County, there was no real success until Rabbi Chaim Zaklos and his wife Aidel came to Vacaville.
“Then in September 2009 we were blessed by the rabbi. He came here with his young family, ready and willing to go out to the community, to embrace the community, to teach us about the Jewish religion. And he has,” Vasquez said.
The event March 26 at the Board of Supervisors also marked the first day the center’s mikvah was used.
Rabbi Zaklos called it an emotional day.
“The history of the mikvah goes back 3,500 years at the dawn of the Jewish history when God gave the Torah to the Jewish people. He instructed them to construct a mikvah,” Zaklos told the supervisors.
He noted that the mikvah is supposed to be constructed even before the synagogue. It is a place to purify both the body and the soul.
“(When) we finally got our building . . . the first thing we did was actually dig the hole to get ready for a mikvah,” Zaklos said.
The 8,000-square-foot building was purchased in December 2014 at 730 E. Main St., creating a “one-stop-Jewish-life” synagogue and community center, the staff report to the board states. The fundraising for the center also went toward the first new Torah scroll in Solano County. It also helped establish the social hall and the first public kosher kitchen.
Zaklos also noted the significance of having the county – the government – recognize the Jewish community because of the persecution of Jews that exists in their family history.
He noted that his wife’s grandparents had to construct their mikvah underground – literally and figuratively – because they lived in Communist Russia and could not openly practice their faith.
The Vacaville City Council last year approved the East Main District mixed-use development program, a project to be built around Chabad of Solano County. Future expansion plans for the center include an outdoor area and a kosher market and deli.