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Passover, known in Hebrew as Pesach, is one of the most significant holidays in the Jewish calendar. It commemorates the biblical story of the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt as described in the book of Exodus.

The holiday lasts for seven or eight days (eight days for Jews outside of Israel). It typically falls in the springtime, starting on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. Passover is a time for Jews to gather with family and friends to retell the story of the Exodus and celebrate freedom.

The central theme of Passover is the idea of freedom from oppression. The story recounts how Moses, under divine instruction, confronted Pharaoh and demanded the release of the Israelites. When Pharaoh refused, ten plagues were unleashed upon Egypt, culminating in the final plague—the death of the firstborn. The Israelites were instructed to mark their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb so that the Angel of Death would pass over their homes, sparing their firstborn children. Pharaoh finally relented, and the Israelites left Egypt in haste, not even having time to let their bread rise. This is why during Passover, the consumption of leavened products (chametz) is prohibited, and matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten instead.

The observance of Passover involves several rituals and traditions. The centerpiece is the Passover Seder, a festive meal held on the first two nights of the holiday (first night only in Israel). The Seder is guided by a Haggadah, a text that tells the story of the Exodus and outlines the specific rituals and blessings to be performed. During the Seder, participants eat matzah, bitter herbs (to symbolize the bitterness of slavery), and other symbolic foods, such as a roasted shank bone (representing the Passover lamb) and a mixture of apples, nuts, and wine called charoset (representing the mortar used by the Israelite slaves).

Passover also involves the removal of all leavened products from Jewish households, known as the chametz search and removal. Special prayers and blessings are recited during this process. Additionally, on the first two nights of Passover, it is customary to attend synagogue services where specific prayers and hymns related to the holiday are recited.

Passover holds deep significance for Jews as a time to remember their history, celebrate freedom, and reflect on the values of justice and liberation. It is a joyous holiday that brings families together and encourages gratitude for freedom and the blessings of life.


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