Jewish Holidays: Passover

Passover 2020
As the current pandemic is expected to peak in the US, researchers predict that the coming week will be “the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”
And with Passover almost here, we can’t help but think that we now experience similar emotions and traumatic experience as our ancestors at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. They too were scared and anxious about what the future would bring. They didn’t have the answers at hand so they turned to their new traditions and faith in God.
This Passover will be different from all other Passovers: smaller, but no less vital. This year we are enslaved – next year we will be free! Let’s look ahead to a future victory over the disease!

PASSOVER 101 

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the three major Jewish holidays and commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. Its name comes from the miracle in which God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites during the tenth plague. Pesach is centered on the family or communal celebration of the ritual meal (Seder).

THE SEDER PLATE

The seder plate contains various symbolic foods: 

  • a shank bone, lettuce, an egg, greens, a bitter herb, and charoset, a sweet mixture of fruits, nuts, and spices. Shank bone, zeroa, symbolizes the lamb that was sacrificed in ancient days 
  • Roasted egg, beitzah, represents the Passover offering of ancient days, as well as the wholeness and continuing cycle of life 
  • Bitter herbs, maror, is a reminder of the bitter lives of the Hebrew slaves
  •  Charoset reminds us of the bricks and mortar made by the Hebrew slaves
  •  Greens, karpas, symbolizes spring, the time of year when Passover takes place

MATZAH 

Matzah is unleavened bread made from just flour and water and baked before it has a chance to rise. When our forefathers left Egypt, they were in such a hurry that there was no time to wait for the dough to rise. Each year, to remember this, we eat matzah on the first two nights of Pesach, thereby fulfilling the Torah’s commandment, “Matzot shall you eat . . . (Exodus 12:15)”

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