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May 24, 2019
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Passover: a Celebration of Freedom

A Passover seder plate commemorating the Exodus. (Flickr)

Starting at sunset on Friday, April 19, and ending in the evening of Saturday, April 27, the Jewish holiday of Passover celebrates the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Passover, or Pesach, commemorates the Book of Exodus. Each year, families around the world tell the story of the prophet Moses leading the Jewish people out of Egypt. Pharaoh at first refused to free the Israelites, so God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians, forcing Pharaoh to release the Jews from bondage.

Today, in honor of the hardships their ancestors endured, the Jewish people limit their diet to foods without yeast or non-kosher wheat, replacing traditional bread with an unleavened cracker-like flatbread called matzah

In addition, a special feast known as the Passover seder is also held, as specific foods are put on a ceremonial plate to commemorate the Exodus. These six special foods include a shank bone (zeroa), bitter herbs (maror), an egg (beitzah), parsley and lettuce (karpas), and a sweet fruit paste called charoset. Each food represents an aspect of Passover or life as a slave in ancient Egypt.

As the story of Pesach is told around the world, Jews remember the Passover miracle, and God, through Moses, leading the Hebrew nation out of ancient Egypt in search of the Jewish homeland, Israel. 

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