Posts Tagged With: pesach

Passover Questions and Answers

seder Table 1

Passover is almost here. The first seder is on the night of March 30, 2018. To help you understand Passover ,or Pesach as it’s known in Hebrew, better we have compiled a list of general questions and answers. Hope they answer some of the questions you had about Passover.

Q. What is the story of Passover?

A. Passover, known in Hebrew as Pesach, commemorates the emancipation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and their Exodus from Egypt, led by Moses, in 1313 BCE. It also celebrates their miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea from the Egyptian army who pursued them.

Q. Why is Passover so important?

  1. Passover is very important to the Jews since it marks the emancipation of the Jews and the beginning of their nationhood.

Q. Where is the story of Passover mentioned in the Bible, or Torah?

A.  Exodus- 1-15.

Q. What are the dates of Passover in  2018?

A. Passover begins at sundown March 30 and ends nightfall April 7.

Q. How are the dates of Passover determined?

  1. The dates of Passover, similar to all other Jewish Holidays, are determined by the Jewish calendar which is a lunar calendar. Passover always begins on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. Due to the discrepancies between the lunar and solar calendars, Passover falls on different days of the Gregorian solar calendar each year.

Q. Can Passover fall on the Sabbath?

A. Yes.  And this year, 2018, Passover begins on Friday night, March 30, which is also the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

Q. Where is Passover celebrated?

A. It is celebrated by Jews throughout the world in their homes and synagogues.

Q. Where did Passover get its name?

  1. During the last of the ten plagues,- the slaying of the first born-the Lord “passed over” the homes of the Jews which they had marked with pascal blood on their doorposts and its lintels.

Q. When is the Seder Held?

  1. The seder is held on the first two nights of Passover, this year March 30 and March 31 (In Israel, only one seder is held; this year on March 30.)

Q. How many days is Passover celebrated?

  1. Passover is celebrated for eight days (seven in Israel.)

Q. Why is Passover celebrated for seven days in Israel and eight days everywhere else?

A. The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. In Temple times, it was set monthly based on sightings of each new moon.  The presence of the new moon was communicated to the many Jews living further away -e.g. Persia, by means of a system of smoke signals. It would take time for all Jews to be notified of the sightings, sometimes even a day later. To ensure all Holidays would be observed at the proper time, one day was added to each festival just in case. However, in Israel, Jews knew when the new moon was sighted, so they did not observe the additional day. By the Fifth century,  a permanent calendar was developed which was independent of new moon sightings. This is the calendar used today. But the tradition of the additional day for those living outside of Israel is maintained.

Q. Which days of Passover are most important?

A. The first two days and the last two days (first day and last day in Israel

), since on these days Jews must desist from work.

Q. How has the celebration of Passover changed over the years?

  1. In the afternoon before the Jews left Egypt, they sacrificed a lamb, roasted it and ate it in the evening together with matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs. The first year after the exodus, when the Jews were wandering in the desert, Passover was also celebrated this way. However, the next time Passover was celebrated this way was after the Jews had conquered Israel and taken possession of the land. The eating of the sacrificial lamb continued annually while the two Temples stood. Afterwards, the rabbis established the Passover seder which is now held on the first two nights of Passover. Only the Samaritans still practice the ritual of the sacrificial lamb today.

Q. How is Passover observed today?

  1. Jews observe Passover today by eating Matzah during Passover, avoiding leaven and holding seders commemorating the emancipation from Egypt, which include the drinking of four cups of wine, eating Matzah and bitter herbs and retelling the story of the Exodus.

Q. Why do Jews eat Matzah during Passover?

A. The Bible, Torah, commands Jews to eat Matzah during Passover to commerate the Matzah which they ate while fleeing Egypt. They had planned to eat bread, but they left in such a hurry that the dough did not have time to rise. Matzah was also the food given to them as slaves and the food eaten on the night before the Exodus.

Q. Why don’t Jews eat leaven, flour with yeast, during Passover?

Passover gifts? The Torah, Bible, says in Exodus 12:14-17 that to commemorate the Exodus, Jews should observe the festival of Passover by removing leaven from their homes before the festival and eating only unleavened bread during the festival.

Looking for Passover gifts? Check out JewTee’s Passover:bibs, onesies  t shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys, kids tees, bibs, onesies, hats, mugs, aprons, seder pillows, tote bags cards, and even dog shirts here.

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The Passover Seder and Passover Pillows

Seder Elijah Cup

A Seder Tradition

As you all know, Passover is almost here. It begins at sunset on April 22 and ends nightfall April 29.

The highlight of Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, are the seders- one on the first night and one on the second night (In Israel there is a seder only on the first night. Everywhere else two seders are conducted.) The seder is a  festive meal, attended by family and friends, whose order and rituals and described in the Haggadah, the book which is read during the seder.

Before the seder we set up three matzohs, one on top of the other symbolizing the three categories of Jews-Priests, Levities, and the Israelites.

Then we arrange the  seder plate, which is placed next to the seder leader. The plate consists of six items- a shankbone or a piece of roasted meat, (Zero’ah) , a roasted hard boiled egg (Beitzah) , bitter herbs (Marror), bitter greens (Chazeret), the Charoset mixture, and a  non bitter vegetable (Karpas).

Here’s the explanation for these items:

The shankbone or roasted meat- Zero’ah-   represents the roasted lamb that was eaten on the eve of the exodus from Egypt.

The egg- Beitzah- symbolizes the Holiday offering brought by the Jews to the Temple. It was eaten as the main course of the seder meal. We use a  hard boiled egg, traditionally a symbol of mourning, to remind us of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Marror and the Chazeret-bitter herbs- symbolize the bitter life lived by the enslaved Jews in Egypt.

The Charoset- the mixture of nuts, apple, wine and cinnamon- brings to mind the bricks and mortar the Jews had to make when they were enslaved by Pharoah.

The Karpas-Vegetable- alludes to the very difficult work done by the enslaved Jews. The Hebrew letters for Karpas can be rearranged to spell to form an acronym for the Hebrew- samech perech, meaning 600,00 [performed} hard labor. It also symbolizes the spring harvest. This is the vegetable which is used to dip into salt water.

The Biblical book of Exodus commands each Jew  to tell their children the story of the liberation from Egypt at the beginning of Passover. The Haggadah is the way we perform this commandment. The Haggadah was originally put together by members of the Great Assembly, a group of Jewish leaders who lived between 410 BCE and 310 BCE. However additions continued to be made to it through the Middle Ages. The first known printed Haggadah containing the version we use today was published in 1485 in Venice Italy.

The Haggadah tells the story of the birth of the Jewish nation. It principally discusses the events in Egypt, from slavery to liberation, but it also covers the period from Abraham to the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Haggadah means to tell and the Haggadah is set up as a dialogue between parent and child. The child asks the four questions in the beginning of the Haggadah and the adult answers them throughout the Haggadah. Also, many of the activities performed during the seder are meant to stoke the child’s curiosity and lead to additional questions. However, all present- adults and children- are urged to ask questions and discuss the exodus from Egypt. It is a time of great joy and happiness and feelings of togetherness and everyone should participate.  The last part of the Haggadah consists of songs which were mostly added during the Middle Ages.

The Haggadah consists of 14 sections:

The first is Kiddush- the blessings over the first cup of wine

Urchatz- We wash our hands, but don’t make a blessing.

Karpas- We eat a small piece of a non bitter vegetable.

Yachatz- We break the middle of the three matzohs on the seder plate. The bigger piece is used for the Afikoman, which is hidden and eaten at the end of the meal.

Magid- We tell the story of the Exodus.

Rochtzah- We wash our hands to eat the matzah.

Motzi Matzah- We recite blessings over the Matzah.

Marror- We eat the bitter herbs.

Koreich- We make a sandwich of the bitter herbs and Charoset.

Shulchan Orech- We eat the festive meal.

Tzafun- We eat the hidden Afikoman.

Bareich- We say the Grace After Meals.

Hallel- We recite Psalms of praise to the Lord.

Nirtzah- Concluding songs. Many Sephardic Jews do not recite this section.

We drink four cups of wine during the seder, a cup for each of the four expressions used to describe our redemption from Egypt.

It is also a custom to lean to the left during the Passover seder. This is how the ancient royalty, nobility and the wealthy ate. Poor people ate while seated on the floor. Reclining during eating indicates a person of leisure who can afford to dine without worrying about interruptions that would necessitate him getting up. Since we are now free, we follow the custom of the nobility who ate while reclining on a sofa or on cushions.  We lean to the left as so doing frees the right hand for eating and prevents the choking that may occur when leaning right.

For the seder, the table is usually beautifully set, with many people using their best china. Everything looks so lovely. The tablecloth, flatware, dishes, serving pieces, Seder Plate, etc. All is picture perfect. But look at the pillows. The pillows used to lean on are just regular pillows taken from the bedroom. Classy, they don’t look.

Now and its sister site, have a solution for that. They feature unique Passover themed throw pillows and pillow shams. Here are a few examples:


Szyk Haggadah Cover Reproduction

The Wise Daughter

Say it like it is!


Celebrate Freedom Passover Pillow

How Sweet It Is!


To see the entire collection, click here and here. Satisfaction guaranteed.














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