Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The Jewish Passover begins next week. Passover is a Jewish festival that begins in March or April on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. This festival celebrates the flight from Egyptian slavery for the Israelites. The word Passover originated in the Biblical record of the ten plagues brought by God upon the Egyptians for refusing to let the Israelites leave Egypt. According to the record in Exodus 12, God killed the first-born child in every Egyptian home but passed over the homes of the Israelites. Passover could also mean passing over from slavery to freedom. The Passover festival usually lasts for eight days, but it lasts only seven days in some areas of the world. Passover is celebrated in Jewish homes at a ceremonial feast called Seder. At this feast, the story of the flight of the Israelites is read or told. The foods that are eaten for this feast are symbolic. The most important part of the feast is an unleavened or unraised bread called Matzah. According to Jewish tradition, the fleeing Israelites did not have time to let their bread rise so they made flat unleavened bread. This is the reason Jews eat matzahs during Passover. Facts and information for this blog post came from an article by Jacob Neusner, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, pp 191-192.