Passover explained to non-Jewish readers

The Jewish holiday of passover begins today, March 29th at 10am (Toronto time) and runs for 8 days, ending sun-down Tuesday April 6th.

Passover commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, where we (they) were slaves.

If you have ever seen the movie “The Ten Commandments,” you know the story of Passover, more or less.

Passover is celebrated for eight days starting on the night of a full moon in late-March or early April.

Passover usually overlaps with Easter, though occasionally Passover occurs a month after Easter.

Jewish people observe Passover to whatever extent they find comfortable, even if only to go to the ritual dinners (called a seder, pronounced SAY-der) on the first and/or second night of the holiday.

Most (though not all) Jews avoid bread and grain products to one extent or another throughout this holiday, in memory of the fact that our ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise.

You should avoid scheduling events involving food during this holiday, and should avoid scheduling travel for Jews because it may be hard for them to find suitable food away from home.

Strictly observant Jews do not work, go to school or carry out any business on the first two and last two days of Passover (first one day and last one day for some branches). This is a requirement of Jewish law.

Most Jews will work through Passover, although many may want to take time off the day before Passover, to prepare for the big family dinner. To put this in perspective: imagine if you had to work during the day of Thanksgiving, then prepare for Thanksgiving dinner after getting home from work.

My next post will explain more about the actual holiday and why we celebrate it.

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2 responses

  1. Thank you so much for posting about this. As a Christian, I celebrate Easter. But my faith is weighted more on the “after his death” part when Christianity was formed. Jesus was Jewish and it is nice to know more about what his life was like before he was crucified.

    We have a small group of people who meet for a more laid-back ‘service’ on Wednesday nights. We did an abbreviated seder meal last night. I liked all the symbology of the things that are eaten.

    Looking forward to reading your next post.

  2. My next post is LONG and I’ve been doing a lot of research and fact checking. Whew.

    My 5 year old did ask me why during Easter bunnies come out of eggs…

    I told him it was due to marketing.

    He looked at me for about 5 seconds then walked away.

    Where did the bunny come from? The egg I get, but not the bunny, unless bunnies symbolize spring.

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