Passover or Pesach is a widely observed Jewish holiday commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. It also celebrates the story of the Exodus and the birth of the Jewish nation after being freed by God from captivity under the leadership of Moses. Passover commences on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan and lasts for eight days: in 2019, from the evening of Friday, 19th April to the evening of Saturday, 27th April.

Spread over the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the story of the Exodus tells of the enslavement of the children of Israel in Egypt, and how God helped the children of Israel escape from their slavery in Egypt by inflicting ten plagues upon the Egyptians, before the Pharaoh released his Israelite slaves.

Ten Plagues of Egypt / Image Source

In the story, the Israelites were instructed to mark the door frames of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb, so that the angel of death would know to pass over those Hebrew households, thus saving the firstborns in these homes. The tenth and worst of the plagues slain every Egyptian firstborn, and terrified of further punishment, the Egyptians convinced their leader to release the Israelites and Moses quickly led them out of Egypt. However, the pharaoh changed his mind soon after and sent his soldiers after them. As the Egyptian army caught up to the fleeing Hebrew people at the edge of the Red Sea, God performed a miracle by parting the Red Sea for Moses and his people to cross to safety, then closed the passage and drowned the Egyptians.

Parting of the Res Sea / Image Source

Jews observe this festive week with several important rituals, including a traditional Passover meal, the removal of leavened products from their home and substitution of matzo for bread, and the retelling of the Exodus story. When the Pharaoh released the Israelites, it was that they left in such haste that they could not wait for bread dough to rise or leaven. Thus, in commemoration of this, the Passover is also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Torah, where only Matzo (flat unleavened bread) is consumed during this celebration. As a tourist in Israel today, you can experience a traditional Passover meal at the Yad Hashmona Biblical Garden.

Passover Celebrations / Image Source

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