Thousands of children will attend interactive show held in Hanover
Livingston, NJ — “In every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as if he personally left Egypt,” reads a passage in the Talmud.
This Passover, thanks to an undertaking on the scale of a Universal Studios theme park attraction, some 10,000 school children across New Jersey will be able to do just that.
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Yes, they will believe they were slaves in Egypt. Yes, they escape across the Red Sea. And yes, they witness Moses descend from Mount Sinai.
Working over the past two months, several dozen volunteers have converted an empty 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Hanover into something very like a Hollywood set. Each room represents a different stage of the Exodus story, in which the Israelites are delivered from slavery under the Egyptian Pharaoh.
The Exodus Experience, as the presentation is known, is billed as a mix between an interactive museum exhibit, and amusement park and a Broadway show. Similar productions in recent years have been put on in Australia, Arizona and, last year, Brooklyn. But this is the first in New Jersey.
The youngsters “get a really intense experience,” said Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, executive director of Living Legacy, an educational outreach program of Rabbinical College of America in Morris Township, which spent an untold sum of money to put this project together.
“They will be slaves; they will go to the sea,” Grossbaum said. “This will be an experience which the children will never forget. It will change their view of Passover, because seeing is believing.”
Over about 90 minutes, each group of students will enter a “time machine” that will take them more than 3,300 years into the past. They will see Moses talking to the burning bush (the flames look real but are a special effect), witness the 10 plagues and pass through the parted waters of the Red Sea (creative lighting, moving set pieces and matte paintings). They will be accompanied by actors — mostly students from the Rabbinical College — portraying all the characters from the Torah.
Because building everything from scratch was such a huge undertaking, Grossbaum said it is unlikely there will be another Exodus Experience in the area next year or the year after.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Grossbaum said.
The Exodus Experience starts today and continues through March 29. It’s mostly booked for school groups, but a handful of time slots are still open. It will be open to the general public next Sunday and March 25, and admission is $10. For more information, call (973) 515-0220.