passover / pesach
dayenu, dayenu, dayenu!
Passover, also known as Pesach, is perhaps one of the most famous Jewish holidays. It is an eight day long holiday for most Jews in America and seven for those living in Israel. You may know the matzah, songs, and seders...but where does it all come from?
Passover is one of the three pilgrimage festivals (honorable mention to Sukkot and Shavuot - both JELF pages) and celebrates the Jewish people's escape from slavery in Egypt. This event is what lead to eating matzah made in a very specific time increment.
See, the Israelites did not have enough time for their bread to rise. If they waited for bread, they would not escape. Therefore, matzo crackers were eaten instead. Matzah must be made within 18 minutes, due to various rabbinical reasons. Now Jewish people everywhere avoid unleavened bread to honor the Israelites during this time. For Ashkenazi Jews, this often means also avoiding kitniyot - beans, corn, rice, and other things that expand. For the Sephardi, Mizrahi, and other Jewish ethnicities, this is not as prevalent a practice. Every year, Jews around the world clean their houses of hametz (leavened items) in preparation for Pesach.
The Seder is a quintessential part of Passover celebration. It is a very specific ritual involving prayer, songs, certain food, and more. Seders can be held with a few people at home or with hundreds of people at a time in a synagogue. Want to learn how to conduct a seder? Visit here (My Jewish Learning).
There are also many ways to get kids involved for Passover...such as the afikomen hunt (Jewish Virtual Library). The afikomen hunt is something kids (and often teens/adults) look forward to every year. It is simple and fun!