Passover (Pesach in Hebrew), is a seven day, spring time festival commemorating the story of the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt to redemption in the Holy Land of Israel. The holiday begins on the 15th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, with a special service at home called a seder (meaning “order”), where we re-tell the story of our journey from bondage to liberation using a book called the haggadah (meaning “telling”). The seder includes a festive meal featuring many symbolic foods to help tell the story. Throughout the seven days of Passover, we are prohibited from eating chametz (leavened products) as a reminder of our hurried escape from Egypt when there was not even enough time to wait for bread to rise. Instead of eating bread, we traditionally eat matzah (unleavened bread).
On Passover, we are commanded to view ourselves as having been personally delivered from Egypt. In this spirit, the holiday provides us with an opportunity to stand with those who still suffer under the bondage modern day slavery. While we tend to think of slavery as a thing of the past, it persists all around us today. Visit truah.org and download their haggadah focused on fighting modern slavery and use it at your seder or incorporate readings into your own haggadah. You can also visit slaveryfootprint.org, take a short online survey, and learn just how many slaves you have “working for you,” making the clothes you wear or harvesting the vegetables you eat. At this time when we celebrate the freedom of our people, let us not forget that there are still those who remain enslaved. Rabbi Buchdahl speaks eloquently about this in the clip above. In the clip below Rabbi Buchdahl and Cantor Cadrain combine the Passover favorite Dayeinu (“it would have been enough”) with the spiritual “O Freedom” as a way of connecting the Jewish community with all who have suffered from oppression and bondage.
Visit Reformjudaism.org for more great Passover resources including recipes, family activities, and an interactive Seder plate.
We celebrate Passover with a festival morning service on the first day and a community seder on the first night. On the seventh day of Passover, we come together again for a festival morning that also includes a yizkor (memorial) service – an opportunity to remember and reflect on the lives of those who have passed away.