Passover is a significant and symbolic holiday for Jewish families. It signifies the freedom of Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The term “passover” was coined based on the biblical events that happened when God unleashed 10 plagues after the Pharaoh refused to free the Israelites. The tenth plague is the slaying of all firstborn sons. The Israelites were commanded to marked their doorposts with lamb’s blood and the angel of death acknowledged this sign and “passed over” their houses, sparing them and ultimately leading to their freedom.
In modern day, Passover is celebrated as a holiday over the course of 7 or 8 days to commemorate the Passover story. During the holiday, leavened products are forbidden from being eaten; this means normal bread isn’t eaten, but a kind of flat bread or cracker is! On the first eve of Passover, the Seder takes place. The Seder is a ritual that includes the retelling of being freed from Egypt, incorporated into prepared meal on the first Passover eve. This ritual has many variations today, but all Seders follow a Haggadah, or retelling of the story. During the evening, the family will eat a fancy meal, share Passover stories, ask questions, and sing songs! Aside from the strict observance of dietary restrictions and traditional observations, Passover celebration symbolises freedom, peoplehood, curiosity, and optimism.
Freedom and liberation
What does it mean to be free? Freedom is being able to act on your own accord, do the things you love doing without any restriction, and to simply enjoy the privilege of your rights. It’s important to acknowledge, however, that freedom comes with a social responsibility and obligation. This is probably one of the greatest lessons the Passover entails. Whilst freedom shouldn’t cost a thing, it’s important to be aware how our actions affect certain circumstances and the people around us. Acknowledge rules wherever they’re applicable, respect boundaries, and never misuse your freedom.
Curiosity and learning
During the Seder, parents will often do things very differently from the rest of the year. They may place strange things like stuffed animals on the table, change the normal order of events in a meal, or even take the entire table out of the room! All of these is to inspire the children to ask many questions; in fact, one of the most popular songs that little children sing is called “Why is this Night Different?” in Hebrew. In many families, children are rewarded for asking particularly clever questions or for remembering interesting parts of the Passover story.
Be an optimist
Always look at the bright side of things. Sometimes, things may not have turned the way you wanted them to. But everything will fall into place eventually. Life is crazy! It steers us in different directions that we don’t expect. But it’s in those unexpected moments that we actually find our purpose. We find out new things about ourselves. We discover skills and talents that we never knew existed! So next time an opportunity comes your way, don’t play it safe! Be optimistic about the abundance of possibilities handed to you.
Passover may only be a week’s worth of celebration, but the lessons it teaches us last for a lifetime. Take ownership of your life and your story. Call the shots. Be in the driver’s seat. But also remain grounded and humble. Make it colourful! UK Virtual School would like to greet all families celebrating a Happy Passover!