The name Passover refers to the fact that G-d "passed over" the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt




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Passover is a holiday which observes the historical moment of the leaving from slavery in Egypt and the first steps towards liberation and freedom. It is also a celebration of the agricultural time of year.

The name Passover refers to the fact that G-d "passed over" the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt.  In Hebrew, it is known as Pesach (that "ch" is pronounced as in the Scottish "loch"), which is based on the Hebrew root meaning "pass over". In ancient Israel the paschal lamb was slaughtered on the eve of Passover, a practice retained today only by the Samaritans .

For eight days, Jews are asked to refrain from eating leavened foods made from a wide variety of grains.  So , there is  matza, which is what Passover is most famous for. This is because when the Israelites were leaving Egypt, they didn't have time to let the flour rise, and so they had to take the dough as it was, without given it time to leaven.


The holiday, is focused on observance, to begin with. The first two nights we have a family Seder ('order' in Hebrew. The seder is a strict order of steps that are performed at different points during the Seder meal), which  takes place around the table while sampling foods which symbolizing the various elements of the Passover story. 


Central to all Jewish holidays is the consecration of the wine and the important presence that ritual wine serves in all jewish ceremonies. In the Passover seder, there are four ritual cups of wine that are blessed and drunk over the course of the meal, which commemorate the miracle of the Exodus.


Passover is the one holiday that emphasis the difference and similarity between Sephardic* and Ashkenazi* traditions. Sephardic Passover traditions can vary from region to region and from family to family.


Sephardic Passover permit the use of legumes and grains while Ashkenazic Jews avoid them.


When potatoes were introduced to the old world they quickly became a favorite ingredient in the Pesach . In both the Ahskenazi and Sephardic communities potatoes were used extensively either on their own or mixed with matzo meal as a base for kugles, dumplings and fritters. Potato starch was used for baking and thickening.

Almonds were an important item in Pesach baking.  Almonds substitute flour in cakes, sweets and stuffing. Almonds are the base of one of the most delicious Pesach sweets, Marzipan.

Marzipan was a staple supply of nomads all over the Middle East and North Africa, it was brought to Europe by traders some of whom were Jews.

Sephardic Jews serve a wonderful range of marzipans flavored with rose or orange flower water. Nuts in general are still an important ingredient and are used by both communities. Nuts are also given to children as a part of Pesach gifts and are used for playing games.



The Seder's symbolic foods


Matza - unleavened bread similar to a cracker described above. 
Haroseth - sweet mixture that stands for the mortar Jewish slaves used to   construct buildings

Egg -  Hard-boiled egg to symbolize life and rebirth

Maror -  a bitter horseradish that symbolizes the bitterness of slavery  
Karpas - any green vegetable to represents spring and new life

Z'roha  - (meaning arm) a shank bone symbolizes the Paschal lamb sacrificed. 
Salt Water -  the eggs are dipped in salt water, symbolizing both the tears and joy in freedom





*Ashkenazi Jews are the Jews of France, Germany, and Eastern Europe and their descendants.


*Sephardic Jews are the Jews of Spain, Portugal, North Africa, the Middle East and their descendants.

Sephardic Jews are often subdivided into Sephardim (from Spain and Portugal) and Mizrachim (from Northern Africa and the Middle East ).





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