Egypt is not only a geographical location
but also a state of mind.
Passover is celebrated by Jews every year, commemorating the anniversary of our miraculous Exodus from Egyptian slavery, as told in the Bible. Our personal exodus from Egypt involves self-transcendence, lifting ourselves beyond our natural limitations.
On the first two nights of Passover, we hold a Seder.
After candles have been lit, we enjoy a ritual-rich 15-step feast, which centers around telling the story of the Exodus. Some highlights include: Drinking four cups of wine, dipping veggies into saltwater, children kicking off the storytelling by asking the Four Questions (Mah Nishtanah), eating matzah (a cracker-like food, which reminds us that when our ancestors left Egypt they had no time to allow their bread to rise) and bitter herbs, and singing late into the night.
Beginning on the evening preceding 15 Nissan, Passover lasts for eight days in the Diaspora.
On Passover, Jews may not own or consume chametz, anything containing grain that has risen. This includes virtually all breads, pastas, cakes and cookies. Prior to the holiday, homes are thoroughly cleaned for Passover, kitchens are purged, and the remaining chametz is burned or sold.
Following the intermediate days, when work restrictions are somewhat relaxed but chametz remains forbidden, we celebrate the final two days of Passover, during which we look forward to the future redemption through Moshiach (Messiah).
Passover is important to Jews, as it celebrates our birth as a nation.
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