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Passover Rituals and Celebration

The Pesach Seder

The seder refers to the meal gathering that takes place on the eve of Passover, the 15th day of the first month of the Jewish year called Nissan. The seder enacts many customs and rituals that are symbolic of the biblical story of Moses and the Exodus. The entire holiday lasts between 7 to 8 days.

Passover Preparation

Before the celebration, preparation to remove "chametz" or any traces of leaven such as yeast or baking soda from the house takes place. This is to commemorate the Jews leaving Egypt who did not have time to allow their bread to rise. For this reason, observant Jews must refrain from any leavened products for the entire duration of Passover. This also symbolizes the removal of "puffiness" or arrogance from the soul. "Matzoh" or unleavened bread similar to a cracker is often eaten during this time.

The Passover Gathering

The seder gathering takes place on the first two nights of Passover. The "Haggadah" is the book used for prayer during Passover, and contains the story of the Exodus from Egypt, as well as explanations of some of the holiday's most important symbols. The Haggadah also contains songs, blessings, and psalms.

A drop of wine may be spilled during the reading of the ten plagues to symbolize the suffering and sadness associated with the liberation of the Israelites. Bitter herbs such as horseradish symbolize the bitterness of slavery, and vegetables are dipped in salt water to recall the tears of the slaves. A bone of lamb represents the sacrifices that were once performed at the historical Jewish Temple, while a boiled egg is eaten to symbolize Jewish faith under the heat of Egyptian oppression.

The Matzoh

The hunt for the hidden Matzoh is performed by the children at the seder in order to maintain the spirit of the family associated with the home seder. The concluding words of the Haggadah represent the hope of meeting the following year in Jerusalem, the holy center of Judaism.


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