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An Explanation of the Meaning of the Jewish Holiday of Passover

| Suncoast Post Staff |

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is a significant Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. It’s a time of reflection, gratitude, and family gathering.

The holiday of Pesach, or Passover, falls on the Hebrew calendar dates of Nissan 15-22. Pesach 2024 (Passover) begins before sundown on Monday, April 22, 2024, and ends after nightfall on April 30, 2024.

The story of Passover dates back thousands of years to the time when the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt under the rule of the Pharaoh. According to the biblical narrative, the Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites despite numerous warnings and plagues sent by God through Moses, who was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

The final plague, the tenth, was the most devastating which would pass through Egypt and kill the firstborn of every household. To protect themselves, the Israelites were instructed to mark their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificed lamb so that this plague would pass over their homes, sparing their firstborn.

After this final plague, the Pharaoh finally relented and allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt. They left in such haste that they did not have time for their bread to rise, leading to the tradition of eating unleavened bread, or matzah, during Passover.

Passover is observed for seven or eight days, depending on the tradition. During this time, Jewish people refrain from eating leavened bread and instead eat matzah to remember the haste with which their ancestors left Egypt. They also participate in a ritual meal called the Seder, which means “order” in Hebrew, to retell the story of the Exodus and pass its lessons on to future generations.

The Seder plate holds symbolic foods that represent aspects of the Passover story, such as the bitter herbs (maror) to symbolize the bitterness of slavery, the charoset (a mixture of apples, nuts, and wine) to represent the mortar used by the Israelites to build the Pharaoh’s cities, and the roasted lamb bone to symbolize the Passover sacrifice.

Throughout the Seder, the Haggadah, a special book that tells the story of the Exodus, is read aloud. It includes prayers, songs, and stories that help participants connect with the themes of liberation, gratitude, and the importance of passing on traditions.

Passover is a time of joy and celebration, but it is also a time for solemn reflection on the hardships faced by the Israelites and the importance of freedom and justice for all people. It is a reminder to cherish our freedom and to never take it for granted.

Happy Passover to our Jewish friends!

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