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Passover

PJTC 2021 Passover Programming  |  Online Passover Resources 

 

What is Passover?

The seven-day Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) holiday, also known as Chag Ha Aviv ("The Spring Holiday"), comes from the time of Exodus, when Moses (led and heavily assisted by God) freed the enslaved Jewish people in Egypt. Moses, raised by the Egyptian Pharaoh's daughter, was actually a Jew, hidden during a time when Pharaoh had ruled that all male babies were to be executed at birth. He was found floating in a river by the princess and raised as Egyptian royalty. Despite his upbringing, Moses was not blind to the injustices against the Jewish slaves, did his best to combat the inequalities, and eventually left his royal place to become a shepherd. God then chose him as a leader of the Jewish people, spoke to him through a burning bush, and told him to go back, free the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery, and lead them out of Egypt. Moses was afraid to be this leader. He had difficulty speaking in public...and had never done anything THIS HUGE before! God suggested Moses bring his eloquent brother, Aaron, along as spokesperson and assisted in persuading Pharaoh to let the Jewish people go through invoking 10 miraculous plagues. After much suffering by the Egyptians and Pharaoh himself and realizing the true power of God, Pharaoh finally let the Jewish people go.

 

What are the customs and traditions followed during Passover?

Passover Greetings: Chag kasher sameach! (Have a happy and kosher holiday!), Chag sameach! (Have a happy holiday!), and Moadim l'simcha! (May your times be joyous!).

Spring Cleaning: Jewish families will traditionally go through a "Spring Cleaning" before Passover, primarily to free the household of any yeast (leavened) bread, or chametz, in preparation for the Seder. Some of us dig a little deeper with the cleaning than others.

Fast of the First Born: First borns will observe a day of fasting on the day prior to Passover, acknowleding God's passing over the Jewish homes when first borns were killed in Egypt.

Work Hiatus: Some more traditional Jewish people do not work on the first and last days of Passover to focus on observing the holiday.

Services: A special Passover service is held at synagogue on the first evening of Passover, prior to the Passover Seder. The first morning of Passover also has a service dedicated to reading the portion of Exodus that describes Passover. The Sabbath that falls within the seven days of Passover is also aligned with the holiday. And, finally, the last night of Passover is one of the four nights of the year we recite Yizkor, the memorial service for the dead.

Counting the Omer: Jewish people begin to Count the Omer for 49 days each evening after sundown, beginning on the second night of Passover and culminating on the holiday of Shavuot. This period marks the beginning of the barley harvest, when ancient Jews would bring the first crops to Temple in thanks to God for the harvest. Yes...not much to do with Passover, exactly, aside from a timing thing. To learn how to Count the Omer, click here.

Passover Seder: The Seder, or ceremonial meal, takes place on the first night of Passover (though some families will hold Seders on the first TWO nights). It is a meal eaten with family and friends in the home (generally), involving special rituals, symbolic foods, song, prayer and story telling.

  • Haggadah: Haggadah means "telling" in Hebrew, and Passover Haggadot (plural for Haggadah) are basically the script for the Passover Seder. Haggadot can vary, but they all essentially have meal instructions, songs, prayers, fables retelling the story of Passover - including the 10 plagues, and "The Four Questions." Click here to learn more about Haggadot.
  • The Four Questions: Arba Kushiyot in Hebrew. Usually recited by the youngest (capable) child or children at the Seder, the four questions are sung in Hebrew and/or asked in English to examine what makes this Passover night different from all other nights. For those who want a little practice or refresher, click here to visit a web page that shows the four questions and provides links to printable versions and an audio recording of the questions being sung.
  • Matzah: The unleavened "bread of affliction" that we eat to remember when the Jews fled Egypt and could not leaven their bread before crossing the desert. During the Seder, a piece of Matzah, called the Afikomen, is hidden by an adult, then searched for by children after the meal concludes. Traditionally, the child that finds the hidden Afikomen is rewarded with a prize.
  • Four Cups Of Wine: It's a good thing many Seders are long, because it is customary for adults to drink four cups of wine during the ritual. These cups of wine symbolize the four promises God made to the Jewish people as they were led out of Egypt: "I will free you," "I will deliver you," "I will redeem you," and "I will take you to be my people."
  • Wine For Elijah: A "fifth" cup of wine is symbolically placed on the table Elijah, a prophet and defender of the Jewish people, to symbolize a fifth promise made by God in later verses of Exodus - "I will bring you into the land..." In fact, many people traditionally also open the front door for Elijah and save a seat/place at the Seder table for him as well. 
  • Reclining Position: All participants of the Seder are encouraged to recline at the table. Normal dining etiquette demands we "sit up straight!" But, during Passover Seder, reclining symbolizes the equality of different classes. Everyone reclining at the table denotes that we are all free and privilaged to recline.
  • The Seder Plate: An important tradition and centerpiece of the Passover Seder, the Seder plate is a dish specially designed to showcase symbolic foods that are part of the Seder rituals. These foods help participants to see, feel and taste the freedom of Passover, taking a visceral step beyond listening to stories and prayers. While modern tradition has allowed for expanded Seder plate items to include symbols that highlight additional social injustices like artichoke for interfaith families, olive for peace between Israel and Palestine, and orange for LGBTQIA+ rights, traditionally, the Seder plate includes:
    • Haroset - (taste) the sweetness of freedom and, simultaneously, (texture) the mortar we used to build structures for Pharaoh. A mixture of chopped nuts and apples, wine and cinnamon. Click here to find a delicious Haroset recipe and more Passover preparation resources!
    • Bitter Herbs / Maror - (taste) the bitterness of life as a slave. Usually horseradish.
    • Bitter Herbs / Greens - (visual) the flourishing of the Jewish people and the coming spring. Commonly lettuce.
    • Boiled Egg / Beitzah - (visual) the circle of life. Vegans will often replace the egg with flower or seed.
    • Shank Bone / Zeroah - (visual) the sheep sacrificed by each Jewish household during the night of Passover. Vegetarians will often replace the shank bone with roasted beet.
    • Salt Water - (taste/texture/visual) the tears of the slaves
    • Parsley - (taste) another bitter herb, used to dip into the salt water and represent the bitterness of the tears of the slaves​​​​​​
  • The Plagues: Part of the storytelling and rituals within the Seder is the telling and experiencing of the 10 plagues...
    • PLAGUE #1: BLOOD - As instructed by God, by touching the River Nile with his staff, Moses turned the water to blood. The fish died and their other water sources also turned to blood, leaving the Egyptians thirsty and without drinkable water. But Pharaoh did not let the Jewish people go.

    • PLAGUE #2: FROGS - God then created a horde of frogs that spread across Egypt, flooding the streets, found in bed sheets, hopping through kitchens and wreaked general havoc. But Pharaoh did not believe in the power of God and did not let the Jewish people go.

    • PLAGUE #3: LICE - God told Moses to instruct Aaron to strike his rod to the ground. When he did so, the earth turned to lice, which infested all men and beasts in the Egyptian land, leading to tremendous discomfort, itching and even deaths (there were a lot of lice).

    • PLAGUE #4: INSECTS - When Pharaoh still would not let the Jewish people go, God unleashed a giant swarm of biting insects on the Egyptian land. They got everywhere (except for the land of Goshen, where the Jewish people resided), including inside Pharaoh's palace. And, still, Pharaoh did not let the Jewish people go.

    • PLAGUE #5: PESTILENCE - Pharaoh, remaining stubborn, did not budge at the threat of having the Egyptian livestock struck down. So, God did just that. God sent disease to infect the Egyptian cattle, horses, camels, goats, sheep...but the livestock of the Jews remained healthy. After this show of power, Pharaoh still did not let the Jewish people go.

    • PLAGUE #6: BOILS - God sent Moses to throw dirt in the air in front of Pharaoh. When he did this, the dirt fell back down as dust that covered the people of Egypt (but not the Jewish people). The dust caused uncomfortable and unsightly boils to grow on their skin. Pharaoh's skin was irritated and his heart was stiffened. He still would not let the Jewish people go.

    • PLAGUE #7: HAIL - God told Moses and Aaron to warn the Egyptian people that he was about to set a hail storm the likes of which they had never seen before and that those who believe in his power should bring their cattle under cover and hide inside. Some did. Some didn't. And when the hail came down, no cattle or person outside was spared and many crops were destroyed. Pharaoh finally believed in God's power and said he would let the Jewish people go if the hail would cease. But when the storm settled, he changed his mind.

    • PLAGUE #8: LOCUSTS - God again told Moses to warn the Egyptians that a swarm of locusts was about to rain down on them. Pharaoh's advisors told him it was time to let the Jewish people go, but he said he would only let the men go, not the women and children. So God unleashed locusts onto Egypt, destroying whatever crops were left after the hail storm. When the locusts were gone, Pharaoh still would not let the Jewish people go.

    • PLAGUE #9: DARKNESS - God inflicted 3 days of darkness on the Egyptian land, while areas where the Jewish people lived had plenty of light to live by. After three days of pure darkness, Pharaoh told Moses the Jewish people could go, but they must leave their livestock. Moses refused this offer, as the Jewish people needed their livestock to survive.

    • PLAGUE #10: FIRST BORN - God told Moses that his last plague will make the Pharaoh insist the Jewish people leave. But first, he instructed Moses to prepare all of the Hebrews to gather their gold and silver and ensure each household had a sheep. That night, they were to sacrifice the sheep and mark each side of their front door posts with its blood, so God would pass over their homes when God came through the land and killed all of the first born of the Egyptians. And, in the middle of the night, that is what occurred. A great cry was heard, as every first born, young and old, human or animal, was killed. Pharaoh demanded that Moses and the Jewish people leave Egypt. And, they did.

The Significance of Passover

Passover is one of the most popular Jewish holidays commemorating freedom, family and the power of God's will. This holiday allows us to reconnect with our history through storytelling and remember a pivotal moment from our Jewish past when our understanding of God was redefined. Passover reminds us that we are only free when we both give in to the comfort of God's will and release ourselves from restrictions that limit freedom, such as unjust attitudes and conditions. 

 

2021 PJTC Programming

Open To The Community 

Passover Services  Please join our congregation for virtual Passover services by clicking on any of these links: FACEBOOK YOUTUBE or STREAMSPOT

Services will be held at 9:30am on: Sunday, March 28 / Monday, March 29 / Saturday, April 3 / Sunday, April 4

Need Help viewing services on your TV? CLICK HERE for informationHaving trouble logging on or viewing our services? Email techsupport@pjtc.net  and let's see what we can do to help you out!

Passover 2nd Night Seder  Please join our congregation for a virtual Seder on Sunday, March 28 at 5:30pm. We will all begin the Seder together with clergy as our hosts. Then, we will split into more intimate breakout rooms based on a diverse group of themed Seder options, each with its own Haggadah and led by members of our community. To receive Zoom information, please register online here.

Passover Catering By Balabusta  Enjoy a professionally cooked Passover 2nd Night Seder meal from one of PJTC's favorite kosher caterers, Balabusta. Click for the menus: (And, feel free to share the menus with others!) Brisket MealChicken MealSalmon MealA La Carte OptionsOrder deadline: Friday, March 26 by Shabbat. Pick Up at PJTC: Sunday, March 28, 11am - 1pm. PJTC Members who cannot afford the full cost of their Passover meal should email Beryl Strauss to discuss potential assistance. Conversations will be held in the strictest confidence.

March Judiasm In The Home: Passover  Individuals and families are welcome to sign up for our March edition of our educational and experiential series, "Judaism In the Home." This month, we will be focusing on the Passover Seder ritual and the Jewish value of Zachor (memory). Participants will receive a learning kit, are invited to engage in an educational virtual discussion, and can take part in craft activities fit for adults and children. Sign up for any or all of these benefits! This month's kit includes: a box of matzah, matzah ball mix, kosher grape juice, bedikat hametz kits (with instructions on how to do this scavenger hunt with the whole family), DIY origami jumping frogs, Seder placemat craft, and a collection of Passover stories, traditions and tips from fellow PJTC congregants and staff. Click here to sign up online.

Sunday, March 14 from 11:00am-1:00pm  Pick up your Passover Kit & stay to work (socially distanced, in masks, outdoors) on a craft project

Sunday, March 14 at 4:00pm  Join Rabbi Aimee and Melissa Levy via Zoom to learn about and discuss your own traditions for Passover Seder and Zachor

Sunday, March 21 from 11:00am-1:00pm  Enjoy our second craft project (done outdoors, socially distanced, in masks) and also drop off your personalized Seder placemat craft for lamination

March 22 - 26  Pick up your finished art projects from PJTC or have them delivered to you!

PJTC Member Activities

Chicken Soup For The Jewish Soul  Sign up to receive FREE chicken and matzah ball soup, home made by our youth group families, as a joint community effort with PJTC's Sisterhood. All ingredients will be Kosher for Passover, with options for vegetarian, gluten-free, and made in the home of a family with a fully Kosher for Passover kitchen to be inclusive of the diversity of our members' needs. Details and the link to sign up will be emailed to our member email subscriber list. If you are a member and think you are not on the list, please email us to be added.

Passover Virtual Escape Room "Escape From Egypt"  LBSRS religious school students and PJTC youth group members in grades 3-7 are invited to escape on Tuesday, March 23 from 4:00pm - 5:00pm. It's a USY/Kadima takeover of LBSRS that day! Parents will receive an email with details. For more information, email Melissa Levy.

Mekhirat Hametz: Sell Your Hametz For Passover  The main three mitzvot of Passover related to hametz (leavened bread and foods that contain it) are: 1) Don’t eat it. 2) Don’t see it. 3) Don’t own it. Mekhirat Hametz, the temporary sale of hametz to someone who isn’t bound by the commandments, is one way to store your Hametz someplace out of sight for the Passover week. Its ownership is transferred to someone who isn’t Jewish. And, that person agrees to “sell” it back to you at the conclusion of Passover for the same price, so no money or hametz needs to be physically exchanged in the process. As a convenience for our members who wish to honor Passover in this way, PJTC will handle this sale on your household’s behalf; all you need to do is complete this form before Passover begins.

 

Online Resources

​​​Getting Ready for Passover:

Song & Prayer:

Kids Corner

Wed, October 20 2021 14 Cheshvan 5782