Holy Week takes on special significance this year with the appearance of both Passover and Easter.
The Jewish holiday commemorates the Biblical story of Exodus — where God freed the Israelites from Egypt. Passover, celebrated for eight days, begins with an evening Seder — a traditional dinner with very specific foods and wine. This meal includes readings from the “Haggadah,” which tells the holiday’s story. Themes include family, Jewish history, social justice, and freedom.
Passover aligns with the Hebrew calendar; thus, the date changes every year. It traditionally begins after sundown on the evening of the full moon (or the 14th day) of the month of Nisan, in 2022 it falls on April 15.
Read on for recipe ideas as well as the Seder’s traditional “4 Questions.”
History of Passover
Passover is the most-celebrated Jewish holiday of the year. It celebrates the liberation and exodus of the Israelites from enslavement in Egypt over 3,300 years ago. According to the “Torah,” Jews are to observe Passover for seven days, beginning on the 15th of the Hebrew month Nisan, which usually occurs between late March and early April.
On the first evening of Passover, the Jews eat a special Passover Seder (ritual dinner) with close family and friends. Jews outside of Israel also eat a second seder on the second evening of Passover. At the feast, they also read the “Haggadah,” which retells the story of the release of the Jews from slavery, and drink a cup of wine at specific times during the story. Served on a special plate, the traditional Passover Seder features foods symbolic to the Passover story, which are eaten at 15 different stages during the reading of the “Haggadah.”
Foods on the Passover Seder plate include matzos (loaves of unleavened bread, symbolizing the Israelites’ hasty departure from Egypt), maror (bitter herbs, symbolizing the maltreatment and agony the Jews experienced during slavery), chazeret (bitter lettuce, often romaine), and charoset (a brown-textured nut and fruit paste). Other items include karpas (a vegetable, such as parsley or celery, dipped in salt water or vinegar), beitzah (a hard-boiled egg), and zeroa, or z’ora (a roasted goat, chicken, or lamb bone). The last two items represent the sacrifice offered in the Temple of Jerusalem.
At the end of the seder, participants pray and sing, and they rest during the day to commemorate their freedom.
Historians believe the Israelites' monumental event took place over 3,000 years ago.
Between 1880 and the onset of immigration quotas in 1924, over 2 million Jews from Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Romania came to America.
Passover went gourmet as the esteemed "Bon Appétit" magazine published "18 Recipes Everyone Will Actually Want to Eat on Passover."
It's Super Passover! Former DC Comics editor Jordan B. “Gorf” Gorfinkel and Israeli artist Erez Zadok publish the first graphic novel version of the Passover.
What is Passover in simple terms?
Passover is a Jewish holiday marked by several ceremonies every year.
What happens at Passover?
The highlight of the Passover holiday is the recitation of the haggadah; a collection of writings on exodus that are read in an order over a meal.
What is the Passover and why is it important?
Passover remembers the Exodus event in biblical history — when Israelites were freed by God from slavery in Egypt.
How to Observe Passover
Try making matzah
While matzah (unleavened flatbread) can seem intimidating to make, it's actually quite easy. Just use special Passover flour, water, salt, and oil.
Read up on Exodus
The second book of the Old Testament tells how Moses led the Israelites out of slavery, following their journey through the wilderness to Mount Sinai.
Clean your home before Passover begins
This is in order to make your home kosher for the holiday. Make sure to get all of the hard-to-reach places that you don't normally clean!
The Passover Seder's 4 "Questions" (And Answers)
Why dip our food twice?
Dipping food is considered a luxury — as opposed to the poor (and enslaved) who eat "dry" and non-dipped foods.
Why eat only matzah?
Matzah commemorates the fact that the bread did not have enough time to rise when the Jews hastily left Egypt.
Why eat "maror" (bitter herbs) instead of other vegetables?
They remind us of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.
Why do we recline?
We commemorate our freedom by reclining on cushions like royalty.
Why Passover is Important
Children play a big role
Jews retell the Passover story during the Seder. Children receive treats for asking questions and participating in the sacred traditions.
Guests eat a variety of ancient foods during the Seder. This includes the z'roa, a lamb shank bone or roast chicken wing, and the haroset, a mixture of apples, cinnamon, honey, and sweet wine.
During the Seder, guests drink four glasses of red wine. While this wine can be sweet and syrupy, there are now many delicious, high-quality kosher options from which to choose.