The Jewish Passover

Seder Meal

What is the Jewish passover

The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish Holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in the Gregorian calendar.

The story of the Passover

Moses went to see Pharaoh many times. Each time Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites. Moses warned Pharaoh that God would send terrible plagues on Egypt if Pharaoh did not let them go. The ten plagues were: blood, frogs, gnats, flies, blight of the livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the death of the first born

The final plague was the death of the first born. God told Moses that the Israelites should mark their doorposts with lamb's blood so that God could 'pass over' their houses and spare them from this plague. This is why the festival is called Passover.

Eventually Pharaoh gave in and told Moses and the Israelites to go at once. They left in such a rush that their bread did not have time to rise. This is why, during Passover, Jewish people eat unleavened bread called matazh. It looks a bit like crisp bread.

What is eaten in the Jewish passover

  • A lamb bone
  • A roasted egg
  • A green vegetable to dip in salt water
  • Bitter herbs made from horseradish
  • Charoset (a paste of chopped apples, walnuts and wine)

How Passover is celebrated today

The celebrations last for seven or eight days, depending on where you live.

Some families clean their houses thoroughly to remove all crumbs of chametz (leaven). This remembers the Jews leaving Egypt who did not have time to let their bread rise. In many Jewish homes children enjoy taking part in a ritual search for any specks of leaven left behind

On the evening before the Passover begins, a special service called a Seder ('Order') takes place over a meal with family and friends in the home.