Q:

What is Passover about?

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Quick Answer

In Judaism, Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Exodus, independence and spiritual renewal of the Jews after they were enslaved by Egyptian monarchs for centuries. Passover festivities are meant to evoke empathy for past suffering and encourage observers to strengthen Jewish culture and community. The holiday is also called the Spring Festival because it because it coincides with the start of the Israeli harvest season, celebrating spring and rebirth.

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Full Answer

Passover is observed on the 15th of Nissan on the Jewish lunar calendar, which usually occurs in April on the Gregorian calendar. The holiday stems from the religious story of the 10 plagues, in which God forced the Egyptian pharaoh to release the enslaved Jews by causing a series of catastrophic events. For the final plague, God took the lives of the firstborn child in every family, including the Pharaoh's son. However, the Angel of Death "passed over" the homes of the Jews, sparing their children from the deadly plague.

The holiday starts with a dinner ceremony, known as a seder, and lasts eight days in Israel and seven days worldwide. Observers abstain from work at the beginning and end of Passover and temporarily remove all leavened bread from their diets, replacing it with an unleavened bread known as matzah. This important tradition honors the exiled Jews, who fled their homes so hastily that they couldn't allow their bread to rise properly.

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