Passover (Pesach in Hebrew), is an important celebration, commemorating the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The Passover story is found in the book of Exodus in the Torah and details how God spoke to Moses and told him to free his people from slavery. Moses told Pharaoh to let his people go, to which Pharaoh said no. God then sent down the Ten Plagues, finally weakening Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. They ran to the Red Sea (so quickly that their bread didn’t have time to rise – this is where we get the tradition of eating Matzo and no leavened bread on Passover) with the Egyptian army on their heels because Pharaoh soon changed his mind. Moses (with God’s help) split the sea in two and the Israelites walked on dry land and were saved. The Israelites then wandered in the desert for forty years before finally reaching the promised land (Israel/Canaan).
This is a joyous holiday usually celebrated with a meal called a Seder. Seder means “order” in Hebrew and there is a specific order and structure to the meal. There is a Seder plate with symbolic foods, lots of Matzo, and lots of wine. Families read the story of the Exodus from a book called the Haggadah. During the Seder we recall when we were slaved in Egypt and thank God that we are now free, and pray for those who are currently being persecuted.