Celebrating Passover: Remembering Exodus With Breads And Prayer

Passover, or Pesach, (15-16 Nisan) is an eight-day Jewish festival celebrating the Exodus. This year, the celebration of Passover begins on April 4, 2015.

Around the world, Jewish homes are preparing for the celebration by baking unleavened breads according to old and holy recipes, and searching local bakeries for matzo to serve during the Passover week.

Passover is a time for remembering and for showing gratitude for the time when the people were emancipated, liberated from slavery and bondage, and traveled to a land of freedom.

Like so many cultures, people of the Jewish faith mark many religious holidays with feasts, by decorating a table, preparing special foods, and saying specific prayers to honor the memory of the holiday and the history of the people of their religion.

The unleavened bread, or flat bread, is emphasized during Passover to the exclusion of all other types of bread in honor of the memory of the time when Jews sent into exile sustained themselves during travel by adapting their cooking methods and thrived on the unleavened breads prepared during steady travel.

This is quite in contrast to the better known traditional Jewish holiday bread known as challah, or egg bread. Challah is also a holiday bread and is most often made with many eggs and is always a leavened bread, or a rising bread. Quite often the challah is presented as a braided loaf that is very reminiscent in recipe and presentation to the egg bread rising loaves baked for many Easter holiday tables.

On the first two nights of Passover, a symbolic meal, the Seder, is eaten. This holiday meal typically consists of three pieces of matzo; marror (bitter herbs), which represent the bitter time of slavery in Egypt; a bowl of salt water that represents the tears that were shed; and haroset, a sweet paste of almonds, apples, and wine, representing the sweetness of deliverance from Egypt. Quite often roasted eggs and wine feature in the Seder dinner.

The Huffington Post offers a great selection of holiday Seder plates for children to enjoy making for family and friends. Also see the recent New York Times article on preparing a colorful Passover Seder. Their recipe for Egg Lemon Soup with Matzos will brighten any holiday table.

Passover is also a time for prayer and reflection. Every part of the Seder offers opportunity for prayer and reflection, and community organizations and restaurants offer opportunities for families and single people to join in celebrating Passover with others.