Jewish families with gather Friday to celebrate the first night of Passover, one of the most important holidays in the Jewish faith. Passover is the celebration, beginning at sundown, to remember the Israelites escape from Egypt. For people who might not be familiar with the holiday, some common questions about the festival of freedom have been provided below:

What does Passover mean? The word Passover literally comes from when God “passed over” Israelites’ homes during the tenth plague and spared their firstborn sons from being killed.

But what is the story of Passover? The story of Passover is told in the Book of Exodus. The Israelites were forced into slavery for decades in Ancient Egypt, but when God appeared to Moses, the Hebrew prophet, he told him to tell the pharaoh to free the Israelites. However, the pharaoh rebuffed Moses’ request, even though he was given many warnings. God then punished Egypt with 10 horrendous plagues. When the final, and most devastating plague hit, the pharaoh finally decided to let the Israelites go after the firstborn of son every Egyptian was killed.  The Israelites left quickly, in case the pharaoh changed his mind. They didn’t even have any time to let bread bake in its entirety. In fact, the pharaoh changed his mind and chased after the Israelites. When they got to the Red Sea, the Egyptians were behind them. That’s when God told Moses to lift up his staff and the Red Sea parted long enough to let the Israelites safely cross, but the water came crashing down on the Egyptians.

What is matzah? Since the Israelites didn’t have enough time to cook their bread before they fled Egypt, they were left with crackers to eat. The matzah Jewish families eat on Passover represents their escape, and people of the Jewish faith abstain from eating anything with yeast in it for the weeklong celebration of Passover.

What is a Passover Seder? Seder means “order” in Hebrew and it’s a meal that occurs on the first two nights of Passovers. Celebrators will read biblical passages from a book called Haggadah. Each food on the Seder Plate has an important meaning. The bitter herbs signify the slavery the Israelites were forced to endure and haroset, which is comprised of apples, nuts and wine, represents the mortar they used.

Afikomen? The word “afikomen” is derived from the Greek word for dessert. A piece of matzah is hidden for the children during the Seder and whoever finds it at the end of the meal is given a prize, like a candy or money.

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