Passover commemorates the freeing of the Israelites from Egypt about 3000 years ago. It was the fulfilment of G-d’s promise to Abraham that although his descendants would be slaves in a foreign country they would ultimately return to their own land.
They were not allowed to practise their religion. Their request to celebrate a festival was refused by the king and so he and the Egyptians were punished with a series of plagues. The Jewish people left Egypt in haste so they had to bake their dough before it had risen.
Today, we prepare for Pesach by cleaning our houses from top to bottom, especially in the kitchen. We are not allowed have any yeast or other leavened products for the duration of the eight days of Passover. The night before the first Seder we search for wrapped pieces of bread by the light of a candle or a torch. In the morning this bread is burnt with a declaration that any leaven (chametz) that hasn’t been found is null and void.
We celebrate Pesach with the seder ceremony, meaning order. The purpose of the seder is to retell and relive the experiences of the slaves, by preparing and referring to a plate of symbolic foods. During the recitation of the plagues we each dip out drops from our own cup of wine. By doing this, the wine cup is not entirely full, showing that we are sorry for the suffering of the Egyptians. Children are encouraged to participate and to learn the story of Passover, of which we should also remind ourselves.
Jessica Nelkin (6th Year)