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MUNSTER - Tonight, just as they did Monday night, Jews will take their

seats at the Passover "seder" table, lean back in their chairs on soft pillows

and retell a story that has been handed down in this manner for more than

3,000 years.

But this year Ernest and Ursula Fruehauf are doing things a little

differently. They will celebrate their seder with their children and

grandchildren under a tent, in the same way the Israelites probably celebrated

the first Passover after the Exodus.

They'll gather to share a meal and tell a story that begins "we were slaves

of Pharaoh in Egypt and if God had not brought our forefathers out, then we and

our children might still be slaves."

Jews today, who, unlike their enslaved forefathers have the luxury of

sitting on pillows, also use the pronoun "we" during the seder to identify with

the Israelites.

"The tent represents the dwellings of the slaves and where the Israelites

lived for the next 40 years in the desert after escaping from Egypt," Fruehauf

said. "It is very likely they spent their first Passover in their tents."

"We are doing it to impress the children, really. Since we are supposed to

celebrate Passover in a way to indicate we ourselves were slaves and then

became free, it's a good idea to use as many symbols as possible to show that

idea - especially for children," Fruehauf said.

His point underscores the reason why a holiday like Passover continues to

exist century after century, with each generation finding a relevancy.

"For Jews today, Passover becomes very relevant. The holiday has universal

significance. Continuously, there are always people who are subjected to higher

powers who enslave, oppress and cause them to suffer," said Rabbi Raphael

Ostrovsky of Congregation Beth Israel in Hammond.

"The primary focus of the holiday is that we became free," he added. "For

any people that are not totally free, then this holiday pertains to them.

"It's the most celebrated of Jewish holidays because of the universal goal

of freedom," Fruehauf said. "It causes us to remember those who live under

oppression. We remember the Exodus and we do something for the less fortunate

by using our resources and our talents."

He cited as an example Israel's efforts on behalf of Ethiopian Jews,

Soviet Jews as well as Jews and Moslems in Bosnia. Israel has helped many

people leave those countries and gain freedom.

The entire holiday, including the advance preparation, requires an enormous

commitment, Ostrovsky said. Prior to the first seder, some families will take

great pains to make their home "kosher for Passover."

All remnants of "hametz" or leavened products are thoroughly cleaned from

the house. In addition, dishes and utensils used throughout the year are put in

storage and the Passover dishes and utensils are brought out.

"It's a lot of work," Ostrovsky said. "But families that do not

observe 'Kashrut,' (dietary laws) the rest of the year, find Passover such a

meaningful holiday that they take on the ritual for the holiday."