Passover or Pesach is the first of the three major festivals in the Jewish calendar. (The other two are Shavu’ot and Sukkot). Passover occurs in spring and is followed seven weeks later by Shavu’ot. Sukkot occurs in autumn.
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Passover commemorates the biblical story of Exodus.
As the story goes, Moses pleaded repeatedly with the Pharaoh, who refused to free the Egyptian Hebrews after 400 years of slavery. As a result, God bestows ten plagues on Egypt (blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the death of all firstborn). Finally, the people of Israel are freed. The complete story is told in the Book of Exodus, Chapters 1-15; the plagues are described in chapters 7-11.
So, Passover is a celebration of freedom.
When the Israelites were freed, legend has it that they left in a hurry and could not wait for their bread dough to rise, which is why no leavened (raised) bread is eaten during Passover. It is replaced a flat, unleavened bread called by matzo or matzah. Pesach is observed by avoiding chametz or leavened bread (including even the presence of chametz in the house).
The Passover Seder
The first night of Passover begins with the Seder, a ceremonial meal accompanied by the retelling the story of the Exodus. The Seder meal contains six foods, used in an orderly ritual to commemorate the story of the Exodus.
- matzah (unleavened flatbread)
- zeroa (shankbone), beitzah (hard-boiled egg)
- maror and/or chazeret (bitter herbs such as horseradish or chicory)
- charoset (a sweet mixture that is often made of apples, nuts, wine, and traditional spices)
- karpas or raw vegetable (usually parsley, celery, or a boiled potato)
- salt or vinegar
During the Seder, a guide called the Haggadah is used, which means “telling”. Its primary purpose is to guide participants through the ritual meal, and indicates when and how each food is used to retell the story of the Israelites Exodus from Egypt.
Other Passover customs include cleaning the home and lighting candles.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, please only host Seder for the people you live with. Otherwise, host a virtual Shabbat.
Passover 2021 begins at at sundown on Saturday, March 27 at sunset and ends Sunday, April 4 at nightfall.
The following sections offer ideas for Seattle Passover resources, including Seder customs, haggadahs, recipes, and activities and inspiration for children.
Seattle Passover Resources
- Jewish in Seattle magazine.
- Seattle Kosher restaurants, caterers, bakeries, and other grocery resources. Stores in Seattle likely to carry kosher foods include:
- Find a Passover Seder near you. Everything You Need to Celebrate Passover During the Coronavirus Outbreak.