Passover (Pesach)

Pesach is the first of the Pilgrim Festivals and celebrates our Exodus from slavery. Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, made a law that every baby boy of the Hebrew race must be killed. However, when Moses was born, his mother managed to hide him. After three months she made a cradle, or little ark, and put him into it. She carried him down to a river and hid the cradle among the reeds there. Soon after, Pharaoh’s daughter was walking with her maidens by the river. When she saw the beautiful child, she sent one of her maidens to bring him to her. She took the little boy to the palace and named him Moses. He became a great man among the Egyptians; he knew, however, that he belonged to the Hebrew race, and when he saw how badly his own people were treated, he tried to help them.

God went to Moses and told him to take his people, the Israelites of out Egypt and out of bondage. Moses told God he could not do this. God promised to help him. To show him he would be able to do it, God turned the rod Moses carried into a serpent. Then God told Moses to pick the serpent up by the tail, and as he did, it became a rod again. God showed Moses another sign but Moses was still afraid because he could not speak well, and he thought the Pharaoh would not listen to him. So God told him to take his brother Aaron for his spokesman.

Moses and Aaron went to the Pharaoh, and told him that it was the Lord’s command that he should let the Israelites go. Pharaoh knew nothing about their God, and became very angry, telling Moses and Aaron they kept the people from their work by telling them silly stories; and so the Pharaoh treated the poor Israelites even worse than before.

Once again Moses went to the Pharaoh and asked him to release the Israelites. The Pharaoh agreed but at the last moment he stopped them leaving. God was very angry and sent a plague upon Egypt. The Pharaoh was very upset and once again agreed to let the Israelites leave but at the last moment he again stopped them. Nine times this happened, each time the Pharaoh agreeing to let them go, each time stopping them, and each time God sent a plague. Some of the plagues were swarms of locusts, plague of frogs, darkness, flies, lice, etc.

The tenth plague was by far the worst. God told the Israelites to kill a lamb and put its blood on the door post of their houses. That night the Angel of Death travelled throughout Egypt and killed all the first-born males of each family, except that he PASSED OVER the Jewish homes when he saw the blood.

The Pharaoh was very distressed that his first born son was dead. He was frightened and let the Israelites go. They left immediately, with the Lord guiding them with a cloud, which at night looked like a pillar of fire.

When the Israelites reached the Red Sea, the Pharaoh changed his mind once again and pursued them with his large army. God saw this and commanded Moses to stretch forth his rod over the sea which resulted in the water parting, making a high wall on both sides. The Israelites passed through and reached the other side in safety. When Pharaoh and his army followed, God released the water and they were all drowned.

When the children of Israel saw they were safe, they sang a beautiful song of praise to God, and then went on their way again.

After they had traveled for some time, they were hungry. They complained, saying Moses had brought them to a land where there was not enough to eat. God sent them quails and also a substance called manna which could be used for bread. Later, when they wanted water, the Lord commanded Moses to strike a rock with his rod. Pure water poured out of it, so the thirsty people and their animals had all that they wanted.

In this way God took care of the Israelites as they journeyed for 40 years through this new and strange country toward the Promised Land. Moses became the law-giver of the Israelites, receiving his commandments from God.

On the first and second night of Passover we celebrate the Seder’s, retelling the story of the exodus from Egypt. The story is read from a book called a hagaddah. We eat matzo (unleavened bread); have a plate with a lamb shank signifying the 10th plague and also reminding us that the Angel of Death passed over the Jewish homes. We drink four cups of wine (with grape juice for the children).

Charoses is made of grated apple with nuts, cinnamon and wine. This signifies the mortar used to hold the bricks together when we were slaves.

Horseradish (a bitter herb) is eaten, signifying the bitterness we suffered when we were slaves in Eqypt. We dip parsley in salted water for the tears the Israelites shed when they were slaves.

  • Removing all the leavened food from the house …
  • And refraining from eating it for the eight days of Passover
  • Attending a Seder on the first two nights and reading the haggadah
  • Eating matzo (unleavened bread) for the first two nights
  • Lighting candles on the first, second, seventh and eighth nights
  • Eating Festival meals in the first two nights
  • Going to synagogue

• A hard boiled egg in salted water (signifying life and tears)
• Gefilte fish (boiled and fried)
• Chopped liver
• Egg & shallot dip
• Pickled cucumbers & olives
• Chicken soup
• Pumpkin soup
• Matzo ball (parve)
• Orange chicken
• Shepherd’s pie
• Roasted vegetables with fresh herbs cooked in Balsamic vinegar
• Potato latkes (hash browns)
• Hazelnut cake
• Apple matzo Kugel
• Chocolate brownies
• Parve almond praline ice cream
• Fruit platter