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Home > Holidays > Passover


Next to the High Holidays, Passover is the most widely observed Jewish holiday. Levels of observance vary, but nearly all Jews attend a Passover seder of some sort. The seder is a Jewish ceremonial dinner during which the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt is told.

Passover begins on the 15th of the Jewish month of Nisan, right after the broadcast of "The Ten Commandments." The holiday lasts for eight days (seven in Israel), with the first two and last two days being Yom Tov , and the four middle days Chol Hamoed .

What does "Passover" mean, anyway?

Click here for Zipple's Guide to Passover

Good Luck Seder

New York, NY -- Although Israelis are often casual about other holidays, nearly all of them want to take part in Seder night. In Eilat, the hippies on the beach crowd into restaurants for matzah and wine and to remember the Exodus from Egypt. Even in high security prisons, convicts ironically celebrate the Holiday of Freedom. So if you're stranded in a hospital on the eve of Passover, you get to take part in the communal Seder there. If you're at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem you go to the "Lucky Seder."

The 100 or more guests come from different ethnic backgrounds. Some are Hassidim, some new immigrants from Russia, Yemenite Jews and Ethiopians. In the room there will be a dozen different tunes for Had Gadya. And let's face it: a lot of people in the room have a good excuse for being cranky. Even so, there a long list of young adults who want to lead the so-called "Lucky Seder" at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem each Passover.

Before the holiday, the ceremonial room, used the rest of the year for circumcisions, is transformed into a festive dining hall. A team of ten Hasidim comes to make sure that not a kugel crumb remains.

Every year, a young religious couple volunteers to lead the Seder.

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Careful with that Passover Cleaning!

Jerusalem --According to a Hadassah physician, the dangers of Passover cleaning are well known among medical professionals but not among the general public. But, he advises, easy safety precautions make a big difference in avoiding health hazards.

Prof. Yona Amitai, a senior toxicologist at Hadassah-University Hospital on Jerusalem's Mt. Scopus says that "the number of accidental poisonings of children from cleaning fluid triples during the two or three weeks before Passover, and poisonings from all other causes doubles, compared to the rest of the year."

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Passover Proves we are the People of the Question!

ENCINO, Calif. -- Why are we the People of the Book? Why aren't we the People of the Question?

After all, before Moses receives the Torah on Mt. Sinai, like Abraham earlier, he answers God's call to service with a question. In Exodus 3:11, he says, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt?"

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Italian Passover: Kashrut meets culinary art

A recent book by an Israeli-based scholar provides a fascinating-and mouthwatering-glimpse at how Italian Jews sat down to the seder 100, 200 and even 500 years ago.

"Mangiare alla Giudia," or "Eating the Jewish Way," by Ariel Toaff, a professor at Bar-Ilan University who is the son of Rome's chief rabbi, is not a cookbook and does not include recipes.

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Czech Jews use Passover to Reconnect
Karolina "Rachel" Harries is in a quandary.

The 25-year-old Czech interpreter says she feels Jewish, but will not be attending a formal Passover seder.

"I used to go to Pesach celebrations, but it was a social thing more than anything, as it is for most people here in the Czech Republic," she says, using the Hebrew word for Passover.

"Pesach is about tradition, which is what I like about it, but I am not religious."

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Traveling Light: Freedom's song
Bible stories are like Tin Pan Alley standards off of which the jazz masters improvise their way to musical immortality.

That is, these ancient stories of gardens, floods, and redemption from bondage provide the basic melody, the essential notes, which we absorb and around which we compose our own songs. What is midrash, after all, but a compendium of theological riffs?

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Passover in Morocco:
"When most Americans think of Morocco, they envision Casablanca," says Dani Moyal, discussing the mix of Muslim and French cultures among Jews in her homeland.

Although she was born in Fez, her husband hails from Casablanca, the city immortalized in the classic film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

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The Word: Pouring God's Wrath
The Passover, which celebrates God's redemption of the Jews from Egyptian slavery, is generally free of anti-Egyptian or anti-Gentile sentiment.

In fact, we carefully remove a few drops of wine from our cups while reciting the Ten Plagues, to symbolize the diminution in our joy on account of the suffering of our enemies. Accordingly, it is a bit surprising that the following text appears in the as the first thing we say at the seder after the Grace After Meals, and before the resumption of the Hallel-the psalms of praise:

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On the Shelf: The Empty Plate
My mother, the seder and the empty plate-and so it was in that very order. There was no Elijah-like phantom who surreptitiously visited our house and ate food. No, this empty plate, with my smiling mother hovering over it, appeared a few years ago on the front page of the food section of her local newspaper.

There she was, one of three women, featured in an article about Jewish cooking for Passover. The other two stood next to tables teeming with home-cooked food.

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Jerusalem-- According to an occupational psychologist at the Hadassah Career Counseling Institute in Jerusalem, even Israeli women, with high-powered professional positions, panic at the "P" word (Passover). "While Israeli society endorses equality for women, it also emphasizes to a large extent traditional family values," explained psychologist Michal Peleg, who is also a working mom. Here are Peleg's tips for a smoother Passover preparation - for Israelis and Americans:

1. Think like a professional. Passover is Peak Season. When the annual report needs to go out other activities are postponed, and extra staff is brought in. Do the same at home.

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Eggs and Plagues: Handling Easter and Passover in Our Interfaith Family
Spring in Michigan is always a welcomed event. Just ask anyone who has ever spent a winter here. So when the snow melts, and the crocuses bloom, everyone tends to get a little giddy. Of course, in my interfaith family, we have an extra reason to be elated: It's the Easter and Passover season.

My wife and I each have fond memories of our holidays. For Bonnie, it's matzah brie (eggs and unleavened bread fried up in a pan) and getting together with her cousins for Passover.

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