Pesach (Passover)

Passover or Pesach, as it is called in Hebrew, is the festival that reminds us of when the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt about 3,500 years ago and how God freed them from the evil Egyptian king Pharaoh.

The Pesach story is written in the Torah, in Exodus, Chapters 1-15 and is one of the most important stories in Jewish history.

Pesach starts on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, at the full moon. It lasts for eight days (seven in Israel). The four days in the middle are called Chol Hamo’ed (weekdays of the festival). In the English calendar, Pesach will be during April or (sometimes) in late March. As the Jewish calendar is lunar, the English dates of Pesach will change from year to year even though the dates in the Jewish calendar remain the same. (Read more here.)

Pesach observances:

Passover is a family holiday. It starts by cleaning the house of all Chametz (leaven) is out of the house. There is a ceremony to search for the Chametz and it is called Bedikat Chametz (the searching out of the leaven) and Biur Chametz (the burning of leaven).

The highlight of Passover is the Seder (which means order). The Seder service is held at the dining table in most homes, and during the service the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told. The “order” of the Seder is told in a special book called the Haggada (which means narrative).

During Passover we recite special passages from the Torah and the Haftarah. (Read more here).

Click here to download the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington's Pesach Family Guide, Passover: A Joyous Exploration