On April 14, Jewish families will gather to celebrate the first night of Passover. The major Jewish holiday that circles around the biblical story of the Israelites departure from Egypt lasts seven days and is marked with symbolic gestures that mark particular moments in the liberation tale.
In Hebrew the word for Passover is “Pesach” and refers to the time when God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites and spared their firstborn sons from being killed during the 10th plague God imposed on Egypt after the pharaoh refused to free them from slavery. “Pesach” also refers to a sacrificial offering made in ancient times when Jews worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem.
The holiday is full of laws and customs to symbolize parts of the Exodus story. The most important is to refrain from eating anything with yeast in it. Unleavened bread or “matzah” is the carbohydrate of choice during the holiday. It signifies the kind of food the Israelites ate in the desert after fleeing Egypt.
On the first two nights of Passover a traditional meal known as a Seder takes place. The word Seder comes from the Hebrew root word for order. Throughout the meal, participants read from a prayer book known as a haggadah that explains the story of the Exodus of Egypt.
For those who want to share in the Passover celebration, below are 10 quotes to share for the Jewish holiday.
"A lot of people think Passover just means you can't eat bread. But it's so much more than that, and that's what I find the hardest. I love ice cream, but it has corn syrup in it, so I can't eat it." --Marsha Cohen
"Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being." --Morris Joseph
"Passover is one of my favorite times of the year. This is when the whole community and family gets together to remember who we are and why we are here." -- Jennifer Wagner
"Passover and Easter are the only Jewish and Christian holidays that move in sync, like the ice skating pairs we saw during the winter Olympics." -- Marvin Olasky
"Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how Adonai freed you from it with a mighty hand ...." -- Exodus 13:3
“The point of cleaning for Pesach is to remember that we are leaving Egypt, leaving the things that constrict us spiritually.” – Rabbi Shimon Raichik
“The message of Passover remains as powerful as ever. Freedom is won not on the battlefield but in the classroom and the home. Teach your children the history of freedom if you want them never to lose it.” -- Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks
“Pesach is not only about "freedom from." It is about our having the freedom to make the world a more sacred place by expanding God's presence in it.” – Rabbi David A. Teutsch
“This is true freedom: Our ability to shape reality. We have the power to initiate, create and change reality rather than only react and survive it. How can we all educate our children to true freedom? Teach them not to look at reality as defining their acts but to look at their acts as defining reality.” – Yaacov Cohen
"Freedom is within our grasp, and Pesach reminds us that we need to reach." -- Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson