On the evening of April 15th, we will begin the celebration of Passover, one of the 3 seasonal holidays on the Jewish calendar. In Hebrew, the holiday is known as Pesach.
This holiday commemorates the Jewish people fleeing from being slaves in Egypt, becoming free from the tyranny of the Egyptian king, Pharoah. Moses’ demand from Pharoah to “let my people go” is one of the famous quotes in the Bible.
The stubborn Pharaoh denied their freedom. God sent ten plagues to convince the Pharaoh. As each plague afflicted the land and the Egyptians, the Pharaoh still refused.
The 10 Plagues:
1. Turning water of the Nile to blood
2. Raining frogs
4. Wild animals or flies sent to harm the livestock
5. Pestilence of their livestock
7. Thunderstorms of hail and fire
9. Darkness over the land for three days
10. Death of the first born
God commanded Moses to tell the Israelites to mark their doors with lamb’s blood. As the Angel of Death passed over their homes, they would skip the homes of the Israelites. This is where the phrase “Passover” comes from. Only after the final plague of the death of all first born children- including the death of Pharoah’s son, did Pharaoh tell Moses and his people to take their things and leave. This Exodus granted freedom to the Israelites, to become a people and to live in peace in their homeland, Israel.
Today Jewish families begin this holiday with a meal called a Seder”, the Hebrew word for order. This meal uses a book called the “Haggadah, Hebrew for “to tell a story”. The meal is an opportunity to re-tell the story to friends and family- of the exodus from Egypt. We are commanded to tell the Passover story, to remind us all of the blessings of freedom, and the empathy all humanity must have to help all who are oppressed. One of the traditional foods eaten during Passover is unleavened bread or in Hebrew, matzah, to remind us of the time when the slaves left Egypt in a hurry. Because the Israelites were forced to leave quickly, there was no time for bread to rise in time for a meal.
The nights of Passover remind the Jewish people of the great struggles they have endured for freedom over the years, underscoring the universal message for all people, that oppression must be stopped.
For everyone in our community we want to wish everyone “Chag Pesach Sameach” which means Happy Passover Festival!