Celebrate Passover at Beth David April 20 - 27, 2019 (15 - 22 Nisan 5779)
Passover is observed on April 20 – April 27, 2019 (15 – 22 Nisan 5779)
Passover celebrates God liberating the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and is probably the single most theologically important holiday in the Jewish calendar. The holiday lasts eight days, though some communities may observe for seven days.
Pesach (If you can’t say the guttural h sound represented by the ch in Pey-sach, say Passover), known in English as Passover, is one of the most commonly observed Jewish holidays. Pesach begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan and is the first of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Shavuot and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel, but little attention is paid to this aspect of the holiday. The primary observance of Pesach is commemorating the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery.
One significant observance related to Pesach involves avoiding chametz (leaven) throughout the holiday. This commemorates the fact that the Jews leaving Egypt were in a hurry and did not have time to let their bread rise. It is also a symbolic way of removing the “puffiness” (arrogance, pride) from our souls. Chametz includes anything made from the five major grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) that have not been completely cooked within 18 minutes after first coming into contact with water. We may not eat chametz during Pesach; we may not even own it or derive benefit from it. You can sell your chametz at Beth David Synagogue, with the Rabbi acting as your agent. Call the synagogue office (336.294.0007) for more information on selling your chametz.
The day before Pesach is the Fast of the Firstborn, a minor fast for all firstborn males (and females too!), commemorating the fact that the firstborn Jewish males in Egypt were not killed during the final plague.
On the first two nights of Pesach, the second observance, a Seder meal filled with ritual observances, foods, and readings from the Haggadah (a guide to the order of the seder and the retelling of the story of Exodus from Egypt). Pesach lasts for eight days. The first two days and last two days of the holiday are days on which no work is permitted. Work is permitted on the intermediate days. These intermediate days on which work is permitted are referred to as Chol HaMo’ed, as are the intermediate days of Sukkot.
Passover Traditions, Symbols, and Activities
Traditionally, Jews eat no bread or leavened food on Passover, and eat matzah, an unleavened bread. There are many food traditions that spring from this, including all the many foods made of ground matzah (called “matzah meal”). These include matzah balls, gefilte fish, and sponge cake. Cookies and cakes made out of nuts, like macaroons, are also big on Passover, as are candies that follow the special rules of keeping kosher for this holiday. Recently, there has been an addition of the use of “kitniyot” during an American-Ashkenazi Passover; certain beans and lentils were typically only eaten by Sephardic Jews.
Observant Jews don’t eat bread or other leavened foods and have big holiday meal called a Seder where they retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. This is a major holiday, meaning that traditional Jews take days off of work at the beginning and end of the eight days of the holiday, but work in the middle.
There are many symbols to represent Pesach in modern times. Most importantly, the Seder plate which contains Matzah, a shank bone (symbolic of the historical Passover sacrifice), eggs, parsley or other greens, horseradish root (maror), and charoset. Salt water is another staple on the table as well as Elijah’s cup and a Haggadah.
It’s fine to say “Happy Pesach” or “Happy Passover.” Some people say “Hag Sameach v’ kasher“— have a happy and kosher holiday.