Mitzvah parade comes downtown, across city to celebrate Passover, hand out matzo

A mitzvah parade stopped at Daley Plaza Monday afternoon, where dozens of boys hopped out of black vans, locked arms and danced while singing psalms.

In all, 65 boys — all 11- to 14-year-old students at Skokie’s Heder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School — were taking part in Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois’ annual Passover celebration. Their day’s mission: bringing handmade matzo to neighborhoods across Chicago. In Judaism, matzo — unleavened bread — is a symbol of Passover, the holiday marking Jews’ exodus from Egypt. To share that message, the boys from the mitzvah parade also handed out matzo at hotspots in Bucktown, South Loop, River North and Lakeview.

This was the 22nd year Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois — which has 48 centers across the state — has organized the mitzvah parade. Passover begins Friday, April 19 and end Saturday April 27.

The boys’ carefree, joyous singing caught the attention of downtown’s lunch rush.

“It’s in the DNA of our organization … to give kids at that young age confidence to go out and have an effect on others,” said Yosef Moscowitz, rabbi of the Chabad’s Bucktown location. Moscowitz remembers celebrating Passover in the mitzvah parade more than 15 years ago, when he was a young boy.

“[The boys] are excited about the mission and to share the holiday with other people,” Moscowitz said. “That is something we try to instill in them — that the holiday is not just about yourself, it’s about other people.”

The organization, he added, wants to make Judaism “fun and accessible.”

Moscowitz’ 16-year-old nephew, Levy Moscowitz, who has helped coordinate the parade for four years, said his favorite part of going into the city’s neighborhoods is meeting with other Jewish people who haven’t experienced Passover.

“It’s always fun to share matzo,” Levy Moscowitz said.

Yosef Moscowitz is a rabbi at Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois’ Bucktown Temple. A group of about 60 boys from Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School in Skokie sang and danced at Daley Plaza to kick off a day of bringing Matzah to venues throughout Chicago in celebration of Passover. | Savannah Eadens/Sun-Times

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