The following page has been provided by Sarah from the MuddlePuddle List – many many thanks Sarah! Sarah and her husband also sponsor MuddlePuddle (see Steve Clarke link above).
Passover or Pesach
The Jewish festival of Passover begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. The holiday lasts for eight days, and this year (2003), Pesach starts at sundown on Wednesday April 16th and ends on Thursday evening, April 24th.
The Passover festival is one of the three major Jewish festivals, and celebrates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. The story can be found in Exodus 1 – 15, and many of the Passover observances are related in chapters 12 – 15.
The name ‘Pesach’ means ‘to pass over’ and refers to the fact that God passed over the houses of the Jews during the plague of the firstborn.
One of the most significant traditions observed during the Passover festival is the removal of leaven from the bread. This signifies the fact that the Jews were in a hurry when they left Egypt, and didn’t have time to let their bread rise. So, the Jews will not eat ‘chametz’ (leavened things) during Pesach, instead they eat ‘matzah’ (unleavened bread).
There are many special foods, songs and customs important to Pesach, and many of them have significant detail. I couldn’t hope to include them all in a short article and do them justice, so if you are interested, please look at the links below for lots more information.
The main important ritual during the Pesach is the Seder meal. This takes place on the first two nights of the festival, and it is when the whole family gathers to celebrate, and the text of the Seder is written in a book called the Haggadah. It lays out the different parts of the celebration and explains the stories and traditions.
One of the sections of this is particularly important for the children involved, because traditionally the youngest child participates by asking four questions in order for the story of the Passover to be retold.
Passover on the Net – a very full, informative resource covering just about everything:
Jewish children’s site including lots of activities (be warned, it plays music!):
The Jewish Children’s Learning Network – again, an excellent site with lots to interest children