KENTUCKY (3/24/13) – Also called Pesach, which means to “pass over,” a Jewish festival that commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. This week long festival is observed by Jews with a number of rituals.
When Joseph moved his family during the famine from his homeland of Canaan, for many years the Israelites lived in harmony. However, when the population of Jews began to grow, Egyptians began to see them as a threat. After the death of Joseph and his brothers, a hostile pharaoh ordered enslavement and drowning of firstborn sons of the Jews. Thankfully there was one firstborn that was saved by the pharaoh’s daughter and she raised him as if he was her own son, named Moses. According to the Old Testament, Moses requested for the pharaoh to release the Jews from slavery but was denied by the pharaoh. God then punished the Egyptians by sending ten plagues to Egypt which included: Water to Blood, Frogs, Lice, Flies, Livestock Disease, Boils, Thunder and Hail, Locust, Darkness and Death of firstborn.
During the tenth plague, Jews marked their doors with blood of a sacrificed lamb so that the Angel of Death would “Passover” them. Finally after the tenth plague the pharaoh released the Jews. The Jews quickly gathered their belongings, while the Jews were fleeing; the pharaoh changed his mind and sent out his army to go after them. God then parted the Red Sea just long enough for Moses to lead the Jews safely then let the water close on the Egyptian soldiers, drowning them all.
In today’s home, the first nights, Passover is celebrated by Seder or feasting. During the ceremonial dinner, the reading from the Haggadah and eating symbolic foods such as: dipping spring veggies in salt water to symbolize the tears shed by the slaves, bitter herbs to symbolize the bitterness of slavery, charoset that symbolizes the mortar that slaves made their bricks from and matzah. Matzah is unleavened bread that is like a flatbread that was taken in baskets in the journey back to Israel and baked in the sun. Before Passover begins, Jews are to remove all leavened bread, this is called chametz.
Children play a huge role in the celebration of Passover. They are expected to take part in many of the customs.
The day before Passover, “Fast of the Firstborn” is started. This is where some firstborn sons fast in remembrance of the firstborn Jewish males who were spared from the slaughter in Egypt.
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