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Passover -
It's Meanings and Traditions

Passover, which celebrates the ongoing struggle for people to be free, marks the creation of the Community of the Children of Israel. Upon leaving Egypt, the Jewish people received the Torah from God at Mt. Sinai. The story of Passover is the founding story of the Jewish people.

Passover is observed at home and involves those people most responsible for carrying on the tradition the children. For children, this is the ideal time to become infused with the aroma, feel and taste of Judaism.

For adults, it is an opportunity to teach and reflect on the theme of Passover, while celebrating the wonders of freedom to practice our religion.

Many years ago, the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt. God sent a leader, Moses, to persuade Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, to free the Jews.

When Pharaoh refused, God sent 10 plagues to the land. After the 10th plague, Pharaoh agreed to let the Jew leave. They left so quickly that they had no time to properly bake their bread for the trip. The flat, crisp bread they did bake, we call matzah.

Our family preparation includes buying Pesach foods and ridding our homes of all bread, cakes, and other chametz (leaven).

The seder is a special meal that begins the holiday with prayer, food and song. Each person has a Haggadah, a special Pesach prayer book, from which to read the service.

There is a seder plate with maror (bitter herbs), zeroah (a roasted shank bone), karpas (a vegetable), beitzah (a roasted egg), and charoset (a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine. There is also wine and a plate of three matzot.

The youngest child asks the Mah Nishtanah (Four Questions). At the seder, each participant should celebrate as if he or she just became free. We recline while eating the matzah and drinking the wine.

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