Photo: Passover Traditional Seder by Jorge Novominsky for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism / CC BY-ND 2.0

The Dictionary reminds us that the Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is the “major Jewish spring festival that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, lasting seven or eight days from the 15th day of Nisan”. In 2020, Passover begins on Wednesday eve, April 8th and is celebrated until Thursday eve, April  16th.

The Passover Story relates that at midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 (1313 BCE), the last of the ten plagues was visited on the Egyptians, killing their firstborn. But YHWH spared the children of Israel. Death passed over their homes.

This Feast of 8 days is celebrated in two parts with first 2 days and the last 2 days as important festivals. Candles are lit, the Passover Story (Haggadah) is retold, Seder meals are eaten, which includes wine or grape juice, bitter herbs, and Matzah (unleavened bread). In the time of Jesus, the time before the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the Passover observance also included the sacrifice of the paschal lamb.

Strictly observant Jews avoid all leavened food during Passover, which is any food or drink containing wheat, barley, rye, or oats. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta, and most alcoholic beverages. They do not go to work or drive on the first and last days of the festival.

Passover, which celebrates miracles (the call of Moses, the plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea) that freed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, continues to be a time to humbly celebrate G-d’s presence among G-d’s people.

The Dominican Center: Spirituality for Mission celebrates and prays with our Jewish brothers and sisters. We pray for peace and an end to any conflict in the Middle East; for human rights and an end to a culture of discrimination; and for an appreciation of the many and varied traditions of faith. This year, we Christians will also be celebrating at this same time (Easter in the Western tradition is April 12th and Easter in the Eastern Orthodox tradition is April 19th). Let us continue to pray for each other.