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Passover: A Festival of Freedom

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Chatting with Rabbi Mike

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What is Passover? Passover is a festival of freedom that commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, & their transition from slavery to freedom. The main ritual of Passover is the seder, which occurs on the first 2 night of the holiday. It's a festive meal that involves the re-telling of the Exodus through stories & song & the consumption of ritual foods, including matzah & maror (bitter herbs). The seder’s rituals & other readings are outlined in the Haggadah.

What are some Passover practices? The central Passover practice is a set of intense dietary changes, mainly the absence of hametz, or foods with leaven. (Ashkenazi Jews also avoid kitniyot, a category of food that includes legumes.) In recent years, many Jews have compensated for the lack of grain by cooking with quinoa, although not all recognize it as kosher for Passover. The ecstatic cycle of psalms called Hallel is recited both at night & day (during the seder & morning prayers). Additionally, Passover commences a 49-day period called the Omer, which recalls the count between offerings brought to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. This count culminates in the holiday of Shavuot, the anniversary of the receiving of the Torah at Sinai.

What foods do we eat on Passover? Matzah, or unleavened bread, is the main food of Passover. You can purchase it in stores, or make your own. But the holiday has many traditional, popular foods, from haroset (a mixture of fruit, nuts, wine, & cinnamon) to matzah ball soup & the absence of leavening calls upon a cook to employ all of his/her culinary creativity.

View an extensive collection of Passover recipes at: www.MyJewishLearning.com/