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Home > Holidays > Passover's Guide to Passover
Cast of Characters
Cleaning for Passover
The Haggadah
Passover Foods
The Seder
The Seder Plate
The Story

Passover: Glossary

The afikoman is the matzah that is broken at the seder and put away for dessert. The custom has developed that children try to steal the afikoman and barter it at the appropriate time in exchange for gifts.

Arba kosot
The four cups of wine each participant drinks at the seder. The four cups correspond to the words used by the Torah to describe God's redemption of the Jews in taking them out of Egypt: "I will bring you out," "I will save you," "I will redeem you," and "I will take you" (Exodus, 6:6-7).

Jews whose descent traces back to Eastern or Northern Europe.

The roasted egg on the seder plate.

Bedikat chametz
The search for chametz conducted on the night of the 14th of Nisan. Families search their house by candlelight; usually ten small pieces of bread are put out in order to ensure that some will be found.

Bi'ur chametz
The burning on the morning of the 14th of Nisan of the unsold chametz that was found during bedikat chametz.

Leaven, unleavened bread, and foods like cake, pasta, and cereal, or any food that includes grains that rise when combined with water, such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, or spelt.

Chol Hamoed
Intermediate days of Passover (and Sukkot). Restrictions against work are relaxed, but prohibitions against eating chametz sill apply.

Kos shel Eliyahu
Elijah's cup.

The book used at the seder.

The blessing recited over bread and matzah.

The green vegetable, usually celery or parsley, that sits on the seder plate, and is eaten after being dipped in salt water.

Blessings over wine that begin the meal on Shabbat or a festival in order to sanctify the day.

Rice, corn, or any type of legume; Ashkenazim also don't eat kitniyot on Passover, but Sephardim do.

The matzah and maror sandwich, modeled after the practice of Hillel the sage.

The section of the seder during which the story of the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt is told.

Mah Nishtanah
The four questions.

The bitter herbs.

The unleavened bread which Jews eat on Passover. It recalls the rush in which the Jews fled Egypt, when they did not have time to fully bake their bread, and were forced to eat unleavened bread.

The month in which Passover falls, on the 15th day.

An adjective used to refer to food that is kosher for Passover. Also refers to a thing or place that has been cleaned for Passover, e.g., "Honey, if you go into that Pesachdic room with those cookies, don't bother coming out."

Rosh Chodesh
The beginning of the new Jewish month, which takes place at the new moon.

The highest Jewish court.

The Jewish ceremonial dinner conducted on the first two nights of Passover. At the seder the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt is told.

Seder plate
The plate that sits at the center of the seder table and holds the shankbone, the roasted egg, the bitter herbs, the vegetable to be dipped in salt water, and the mixture of apples, cinnamon, and nuts that the bitter herbs are dipped in.

Sefirat ha'omer
The counting of 49 days between Passover and Shavuot that begins on the second night of Passover.

Jews whose descent traces to Southern Europe, the east, and Middle Eastern countries.

The Sabbath.

Shmurah matzah
Matzah which has been supervised from the time the wheat was harvested, to make sure it didn't come into contact with water.

The second main component of the Jewish oral law.

Yom Tov
Jewish festivals when work is forbidden.

The shankbone on the seder plate.

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