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First Night of Passover
April 8, 2020 @ 7:45 pm
Passover is an eight-day holiday that commemorates the departure of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.
The name is a reference to Exodus 12:13, in which God inflicts 10 plagues upon the Egyptians after the Pharaoh refuses to free the Israelites. During the final plague, the killing of the firstborn sons, God “passed over,” or spared, the houses of the Israelites.
Passover is observed from the 14th day of the Hebrew calendar month of Nissan until the 21st day, which this year begins Wednesday, April 8th at sunset and runs through Thursday, April 16th. Jews who follow the holiday’s tenets can not eat chometz – any leavened good that contains wheat, rye, barley, oats or spelt that has been allowed to ferment and rise. Stricter rules say anything made with soy, corn or corn syrup is also forbidden.
Passover is observed with a religious feast called a Seder. Seder guests take turns telling the story of the Exodus, which is recorded in books called Haggadahs.
A single platter displays six symbolic foods:
- Haroset, a paste of fruit, nuts and wine that symbolizes the mortar the slaves used.
- A hard-boiled or roasted egg, which represents spring.
- A shank bone, which symbolizes the animal sacrifice the Israelites made before they left Egypt.
- A bitter herb, which represents the bitterness of slavery.
- Karpas, a green vegetable that invokes spring and is dipped in saltwater to symbolize the tears of the enslaved Israelites.
- A second green vegetable, typically Romaine lettuce, which is eaten with matzo and the bitter herb.
The festival typically brings friends, relatives and even strangers together for a celebration of freedom highlighted by a Seder dinner. But this year, like many other events and celebrations, Passover plans will be altered because of the spread of the coronavirus, we suppose Seder via Zoom or Facetime may become the reality.