What is Passover?


Passover is the name of a holiday celebrated by Jewish people in the spring of every year, usually some time in March or April.

The Passover story commemorates the Jewish people being freed from slavery in Egypt a very, very long time ago (thousands of years ago). In the Passover story, the Jewish people are lead to freedom by Moses, who is sent by the Jews' God to claim their freedom from the Egyptian Pharaoh. Because the Pharaoh is initially unwilling to listen, the Jews have to leave Egypt very quickly once the Pharaoh does finally agree, in order to avoid giving the Pharaoh a chance to change his mind! Because they leave in such a hurry, the bread that the Jews try to make to take with them on their journey doesn't have time to rise -- it ends up being flat, more like a cracker than a loaf!

In order to remember what this was like for their ancestors, Jewish people today observe Passover by retelling the story of their freedom at a special ceremonial meal called a "Seder," and by eating a flat, cracker-like food called "matzoh" for seven or eight days! The first and last two days of Passover are also observed as religious holidays when certain forms of work and other activities are not permitted by those who celebrate the holiday.

(by Mya Kagan)


Seder time! Have you ever been to a special Passover Seder meal? If so, what was it like?? Whose Seder did you attend -- was it your own family, or a friend? If you've never been to a Passover Seder, what do you think it would be like? What are some things you might want to find out more about? Passover is a holiday where people (and especially kids!) are meant to tell stories and ask questions, so politely asking about the history behind things that are new to you would be a really great way to learn!

Further Information

Because Passover is a very important holiday in Jewish religion, people who observe it not only eat matzoh for seven or eight days, but they also do not eat any bread or other foods that are similar or leavened, such as cookies, cereal, pizza, pasta, and more! These items are supposed to be removed from the home and the entire house is supposed to be cleaned thoroughly to ensure that no crumbs remain! In the Passover story, the people of Egypt experience ten plagues, such as frogs that cover the land and locusts that ruin their crops. The Passover story tells that these plagues come from the Jews' God, as a warning to the Egyptians to set the Jews free. While observing Passover at the special Seder meal, the Jewish people remember not only the suffering of their ancestors as slaves, but also the suffering of the Egyptians who had to undergo these unfortunate plagues before the Pharaoh finally allowed to Jews to leave. The name "Passover" comes from the part of the Passover story where the Jewish people's homes were passed over by the plagues sent to their Egyptian neighbors. The name for Passover in Hebrew, which has the same meaning, is "Pesach"!