Mia Lazaro
Zissen Pessach!

Passover, also known as Pesach, is a major Jewish holiday that is one of the three pilgrimage festivals that celebrate the story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt.

The spring festival begins on the 15th day of Nisan, which is the first month of the Jewish calendar. The celebrations last for seven or eight days, depending on where you live. In 2024 Passover begins on the evening of Monday 22 April and will end on the evening of Tuesday 30th April.

On the evening before Passover starts, Jewish people have a special meal with family and friends at home, called Seder.

During the meal, the story of Exodus is told from a book called the Haggadah(Narration). Everybody takes part in reading from the Haggadah. Some parts are read in Hebrew and some parts are read in English.

What is on the Sevah plate: 

  • Z’roa: The lamb bone represents the lamb that was sacrificed and brought to the temple the night before the Israelites left Egypt on the eve of the Exodus.
  • Beitzah: The egg is a symbol of mourning and is used to remember the destruction of the Temple. Food usually becomes soft when cooked, but eggs become harder, so it is a symbol of the Jewish people’s faith and represents a pre-holiday offering that was brought to the temple.
  • Maror: This is a bitter herb that is traditionally made from horseradish. Just like the Chazaret below, they represent the hard work of the Israelite slaves.
  • Chazeret: These bitter herbs, such as romaine lettuce and endive, represent the bitterness of slavery.
  • Charoset: This is a sweet, brown paste made of fruit and nuts, and represents the cement that the Israelites used for building bricks when they were slaves in Egypt.
  • Karpas: These vegetables are often celery stalks or parsley and are dipped into a little bowl of water. They represent the hard work and the Israelites’ tears when they were slaves.

The table also includes three Matzah (bread that is flat because it has not risen). At the start of the Seder, the middle Matzah is broken and the largest piece is hidden. During the Seder the children hunt for it. The one who finds it receives a small prize.

Wine is also on the table with four small glasses to represent the four times God promised freedom to the Israelites. An extra cup of wine is placed on the table and the door is left open for the prophet Elijah. Jews believe that one day, Elijah will reappear and he will announce the coming of the Messiah.

To wish your friends a happy holiday, you can say; “Chag Pesach” or “Happy Passover!”