Passover: Commemorating the story of the Exodus

6 04 2012

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Passover begins in spring, on the 15th day of the Jeweish month of Nisan and is celebrated for seven or eight days. This year the Passover begins on April 7.

In the narrative of the Exodus, the Torah (Old Testament) tells about God helping the Children of Israel to escape from slavery in Egypt. When the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). In commemoration, for the duration of Passover no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason it is called “The Festival of the Unleavened Bread”. Matzo (flat unleavened bread) is a symbol of the holiday.

It is traditional for Jewish families to gather on the first night of Passover (first two nights in communities outside the land of Israel) for a special dinner called seder (derived from the Hebrew word for “order”, referring to the very specific order of the ritual). The table is set with the finest china and silverware to reflect the importance of the meal. During this meal, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold using a special text called the Haggadah. Four cups of wine are consumed at various stages in the narrative.

In the name of Central-European Religious Freedom Institute, I wish Chag Sameach to all Jewish people. 

Jura Nanuk,
CERFI Founder & President


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