Passover starts Monday. What to know about the Jewish holiday.

Passover, one of the most significant holidays in the Jewish calendar, holds deep religious and cultural importance for Jewish communities worldwide.

As Passover approaches, it brings with it a time of reflection, remembrance, and celebration.


In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the origins, traditions, rituals, and customs associated with Passover, providing readers with a thorough understanding of this sacred holiday.

Origins of Passover:

Passover, known as Pesach in Hebrew, commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, as recounted in the biblical book of Exodus.

According to the narrative, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for generations until Moses, under divine guidance, led them to freedom.

Passover serves as a reminder of the importance of liberation, redemption, and the pursuit of justice.

The holiday begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan and lasts for eight days (seven days in Israel).

The Passover Story:

Central to the observance of Passover is the retelling of the story of the Exodus.

The narrative follows the journey of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land.

Key events include the ten plagues inflicted upon Egypt, the Passover sacrifice, the parting of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

The story of Exodus is central to Jewish identity and serves as a reminder of the enduring themes of freedom, faith, and redemption.

Preparation for Passover:

In the weeks leading up to Passover, Jewish households engage in thorough preparations to ensure the holiday is observed in accordance with tradition.

One of the most significant aspects of preparation is the removal of chametz, which refers to any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt that has been allowed to ferment and rise.

This symbolic act recalls the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt, with no time for their bread to rise.

Jewish families meticulously clean their homes to remove all traces of chametz, and any remaining chametz is sold or set aside before the holiday begins.

The Seder Meal:

The centerpiece of Passover observance is the Seder meal, a ceremonial feast held on the first two nights of Passover (the first night only in Israel).

The word “Seder” means “order” in Hebrew, reflecting the structured format of the meal as outlined in the Haggadah, the text that guides the Passover rituals and recounts the story of the Exodus.

During the Seder, participants engage in symbolic rituals, recite prayers and blessings, and partake in a festive meal.

The Seder plate, a ceremonial dish containing symbolic foods, takes center stage during the meal, with each item representing an aspect of the Passover story.

Key Elements of the Seder Plate: The Seder plate typically contains six symbolic foods:

Maror: Bitter herbs, such as horseradish, symbolizing the bitterness of slavery.

Charoset: A mixture of apples, nuts, and wine, symbolizing the mortar used by the Israelites to build structures in Egypt.

Karpas: A green vegetable, such as parsley or celery, symbolizing springtime and rebirth.

Zeroa: A roasted shank bone or chicken wing, symbolizing the Paschal lamb sacrificed during the Exodus.

Beitzah: A roasted egg, symbolizing rebirth and renewal.

Chazeret: Additional bitter herbs, often romaine lettuce, used for the Hillel sandwich.

The Haggadah:

Central to the Seder meal is the Haggadah, a text that outlines the order of the Seder and provides instructions for conducting the rituals and recounting the story of the Exodus.

The word “Haggadah” means “telling” or “narrative” in Hebrew, reflecting its primary purpose of retelling the story of the Israelites’ journey from slavery to freedom.

The Haggadah contains prayers, blessings, songs, and rituals that guide participants through the retelling of the Exodus story, including the plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Modern Observances:

In addition to traditional customs and rituals, modern Passover observance may include:


Many Jewish communities emphasize the importance of inclusivity and diversity during Passover, welcoming individuals from all backgrounds to participate in the holiday celebrations.

Social Justice:

Passover serves as a time to reflect on contemporary issues of social justice and liberation, drawing parallels between the struggles of the Israelites in ancient times and the ongoing fight for freedom and equality today.

Community Engagement:

Passover often involves communal gatherings, charitable activities, and outreach efforts to support those in need, embodying the spirit of unity and compassion.


Passover is a time of reflection, remembrance, and celebration for Jewish communities around the world.

Through rituals, traditions, and gatherings, participants retell the story of the Exodus, reflect on themes of liberation and redemption, and celebrate the enduring spirit of the Jewish people.

As families gather around the Seder table to share in the festive meal and pass down cherished traditions to future generations, the timeless message of Passover – of freedom, faith, and resilience – continues to inspire and uplift all who observe it.

Leave a Comment