Passover 2018: Things To Know About Jewish Holiday Celebrating Liberation From Slavery

The Jewish holiday of Passover or Pesach takes place each spring based on the Hebrew calendar and lasts for eight days. The crucial point of the holiday is the Seder(s), meaning order or arrangement, which takes place on the first two nights of the holiday, even though Passover extends for a complete week. 

This year, Passover will begin Friday at Sundown and will last until April 7.  

What does Passover celebrate? 

Passover is based on a story from the second book in the Jewish bible — the Exodus, which tells the tale of Hebrew people’s liberation by God from Egypt, where they were enslaved by Pharaoh, and freedom under the leadership of Moses. 

During the Seder, the entire history and story from the bible are retold by the Jews, starting with the enslavement of Hebrews, and the ten plagues to the Exodus from Egypt by way of the Red Sea. 

The story of Moses – who was a prophet God reached out to after ignoring the suffering of his chosen people for decades – is also told. However, the emphasis is on God and not the Jewish leader.

The Disney movie “Prince of Egypt,” showcases the complete story of the Passover. 

Ever since the Exodus, Passover has been celebrated in various manners and has evolved through modern times. For instance, the modern Seder also includes the teachings and observances of medieval European Rabbis. 

What are some of the foods included in the Seder meal? 

According to an article in Chicago Tribune, a typical Seder meal consists of various food items that are of utmost importance in the Jewish tradition, said Rabbi Paul Caplan, of Temple Anshe Sholom in Olympia Fields, Cook County, Illinois.

For example, an unleavened flatbread called matzo is made without allowing it to rise, which symbolizes the hurry in which Hebrews left Egypt. 

Caplan said another item commonly seen at the table is parsley, which is traditionally dipped in salt water before being consumed. The green parsley represents new life and spring, while the salt water is often seen as a symbol of the tears of slavery.  

“The story becomes an edible feast. We actually digest the story of the Passover. So, it becomes part of you,” he said.

Passover 2018: Everything you need to know about the Jewish Festival In this photo, Jewish people take part in the Cohanim prayer (priest’s blessing) during the Passover (Pesach) holiday at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, on April 13, 2017. Photo: Getty Images / Thomas Coex

Here are 5 quotes and sayings to share with your friends and family on Passover. 

1. “Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. For what does it commemorate? It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from most foul and cruel tyranny. And so, it is Israel’s – nay, God’s protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national.” – Morris Joseph

2. “Then Moses said to the people, ‘Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.’” – Exodus 13:3

3. “Freedom is within our grasp, and Pesach reminds us that we need to reach.” – Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson

4. “Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves.” – John 11:55

5. “The message of Passover remains as powerful as ever. Freedom is won not on the battlefield but in the classroom and the home. Teach your children the history of freedom if you want them never to lose it.” – Jonathan Sacks

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