by Rabbi Janie Hodgetts, Chaplain, Spiritual Care Department
Passover, or "Pesach" in Hebrew, is one of the most beloved Jewish holidays and is widely celebrated, even by those who may not observe any other holidays. Passover, which began this year on the evening of April 6 and ends on April 14, commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, including the night when God "passed over" the houses of the Israelites during the tenth plague, and the following day when they were led from slavery to freedom.
The central ritual of Passover is the Seder, a meal that takes place either in the home or in the community. The word "seder" means order, referring to the traditional series of blessings, songs, readings, activities and eating of symbolic foods, all surrounding the meal. One symbolic food is matzah, the unleavened "bread of affliction," named as such because the Israelites had no time to let their bread rise before the Exodus. In fact, a major part of traditional preparations for Passover consists of removing all leavened foods from the home and replacing them with unleavened foods.
Children play a significant role at the Seder, primarily to ask elders traditional questions about the evening's customs. This is meant to spark the telling of the story and meaning of the holiday, the true purpose of the Seder.
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