Passover in 2024

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Passover is a significant Jewish festival that is celebrated worldwide, marking a period of remembrance and rejoicing. In 2024, it will be observed from April 22 to April 30.

The festival commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from over 200 years of slavery in ancient Egypt, a story recounted in the Book of Exodus in the Torah. According to tradition, the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptian Pharaoh, who refused to release them despite the pleas of Moses, a key figure in Jewish history. Moses warned Pharaoh that God would send severe plagues if the Israelites were not freed, but Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened.

Eventually, God sent ten devastating plagues to Egypt, affecting everyone from common folk to the royal household. The plagues included turning the Nile River to blood, overwhelming the land with frogs, and a series of other calamities such as lice, wild animals, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the death of the first-born sons of the Egyptians. The final plague led Pharaoh to finally order Moses to take the Israelites out of Egypt, thus granting them their freedom.

During Passover, Jewish families engage in several traditional practices to honor this historic event. Homes are thoroughly cleaned to remove chametz, or leavened bread, symbolizing the Israelites leaving Egypt in haste without time for their bread to rise. Instead, they eat matzah, an unleavened flatbread.

The highlight of Passover is the Seder, a ritual meal held on the first two nights of the festival. The Seder includes reading from the Haggadah, which narrates the Exodus story, and features symbolic foods placed on a Seder plate:

  • A lamb bone represents the sacrificial lamb whose blood marked the homes of Israelites to be spared by the angel of death.
  • A roasted egg symbolizes sacrifice and the enduring spirit of the Israelites.
  • A green vegetable dipped in salt water recalls the tears shed by the enslaved Israelites.
  • Bitter herbs, like horseradish, remind participants of the harshness of slavery.
  • Charoset, a sweet paste made of apples, walnuts, and wine, symbolizes the mortar used by the Israelites in their forced labor.

During the Seder, a door is left open for Elijah the Prophet, revered as the herald of the Messiah. This time is also a celebration of freedom, resilience, and the enduring spirit of the Jewish people.

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