Passover is a Jewish celebration that begins this year at sundown on March 27 and ends on April 4. Passover typically occurs around the same time as Christian Easter. In 2021, the holidays overlap and share April 4 as the culmination of prayer for Jews and Christians.
According to the religious resource My Jewish Learning, Passover is a festival of freedom that marks the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and their freedom from slavery. The term “passover,” which is also known as “pesach,” coordinates to a key moment in religious history.
According to texts, the Egyptian Pharaoh refused to liberate the children of Israel, despite requests from Moses and his brother, Aaron. The pharaoh was warned that his people and he would be punished if the pharaoh did not comply. Persistent and obstinate in his refusal, Pharaoh was subjected to 10 plagues, each of which was more devastating than the previous one.
These plagues included blood, frogs, bugs, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and finally the demise of all firstborn males. To be spared the penultimate devastation, Israelites were instructed to sacrifice a lamb for a meal and to mark their doors with its blood. The Lord would see the blood and pass over that household, sparing the occupants’ sons.
Because Passover is so symbolic, Passover seders, which take place either on the first Friday or both the first and second Friday of Passover, feature many traditions.
Some traditions may need to be modified to maintain health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is customary to read the Haggadah at the seder table, but celebrants who cannot come together may share these important stories, blessings and songs via an online video chat.
In addition, if Passover celebrants cannot make it to the store or find all of the ingredients for their seder plates, substitutions may need to be made.
Traditionally, an egg, bitter herbs, a shank bone, parsley, haroset (chopped mixed nuts, fruits and cinnamon), and lettuce are included. Celebrants can even experiment with making unleavened bread at home if necessary. If horseradish for a bitter herb is unavailable, any item that can cause tears, such as ginger or raw lemon, may be substituted.
Passover is an important part of Jewish history and a holiday that is celebrated each year with vigor. (MC)