By TMoM Team Member Dani Luft

Happy Passover, everyone!

Back in December, I did a FAQ edition about Hannukah and here I am again explaining another Jewish holiday, Passover. Hope you all enjoy and learn something, too! Don’t forget to ask questions and I’ll try to comment back!

Q: When is Passover this year?
A: Since our calendar goes by the lunar calendar, Passover this year starts sundown March 25th-sundown April 2nd, 2013.

Q: Why do you celebrate Passover?
A: Back in the day, the Jewish people were forced by Pharaoh and the Egyptians to be slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh would not let the Jewish people free. Moses, the leader of the Jewish people who was saved in the Nile River by Pharaoh’s family, talks to Pharaoh pleading with him to let the Jewish people go free. God sends 10 plagues upon the Egyptians (turned water into blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, death of the first born) warning them to let the Jewish people go free. Eventually Pharaoh agrees to let the Jews free, so the Jewish people hurry and leave town. As they were leaving, Pharaoh changes his mind and the Egyptians come chasing after them until they hit the Sea of Reeds. Moses miraculously parts the sea and lets the Jews through while closing it up right as the Egyptians come after them. The Jews were free and spend the next 40 years wandering in the desert trying to find their permanent home.

Q: Why is the holiday called “Passover?”
A: While the Angel of Death visited Egypt, it knew to “pass over” the Hebrew homes which had been marked with lamb’s blood on the doorposts.

Q: Do you eat any special foods on this holiday?
A: The Jewish people had to rush to pack up their homes and while baking bread to take with them, didn’t have enough time for the bread to rise. So we eat Matzah, which is unleavened bread for the full 8 days of Passover. It tastes like a bland cracker (or cardboard as we sometimes tease). We do not eat anything that has leavening in it which means no cakes, cookies, bread, etc. Some Jews do not eat legumes, rice, corn, or peanuts either during the holiday because these things are often used to make bread items. We also eat eggs and spring-like foods.

Q: Other than the special foods you eat, how else do you celebrate the holiday?
A: The first two days of Passover, we have a ceremonial service called a “Seder” which in English, means “order” because there is a specific way in which we are to re-tell the story of Passover. It is important for us to remember what it was like for our ancestors to be slaves in Egypt. We are to recall the sorrow they felt being slaves in Egypt as well as the happiness it felt to be set free. We thank God for helping us through that time. The most important part of the Seder is to make sure that our children know and understand the story of Passover.

Do you have more questions for Dani or comments to add? Please do so below!