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Video:The Story of Passover

with Jillian Fratkin

In this About.com video, learn about the history of Passover and the modern day practices that are implemented in this Jewish holiday.See Transcript

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Transcript:The Story of Passover

Hey I'm Jillian with About.com. Today we are going to discuss the history and the modern day celebration of Passover.

Brief Overview of Passover

Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrated in remembrance of the Hebrews gaining their freedom from slavery in Egypt. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Jewish calendar month Nissan, lasts for 7-8 days, and is the most widely observed Jewish holiday.

The History of Passover

The history of Passover dates back to roughly the 13th century BCE. According to the biblical account, the Egyptians had kept the Hebrew people in slavery for several hundred years, when God came to Moses in a burning bush and told him to free the Israelites. When the Egyptian Pharaoh refused to grant their freedom, God set ten plagues upon Egypt. In the final plague, God sent the Angel of Death to kill every first born in the land, both people and livestock. However, the Hebrews were forewarned and were told to kill a Passover lamb, smear its blood on their doorframe, and stay inside after dark. It was by doing this that the angel of death passed over their homes, and spared their first born. It is this action from which the term Passover is derived.

After this final plague, the Egyptian Pharaoh freed the Hebrews, who fled Egypt so fast that they didn't have time for their bread to rise.

Passover Rituals

Every year, people of the Jewish faith celebrate the freedom of the Hebrews through Passover. In modern times, it consists of rituals, ranging from abstaining from work to dietary restrictions. One of the more prominent points of Passover is the eating of only unleavened bread, matzah, in memory of the flight from Egypt, and abstaining from eating any chamez, or leavened products. Part of the practice of not eating chamez is a thorough cleaning of the house to remove any trace amounts of chamez and also using only cookware products that have never been touched by chamez.

Recounting the Story of Passover

Another cornerstone of Passover is the telling of the Passover story. Biblically, Jews are commanded to retell the story every year, which is done during the Passover Sedar (performed on the first and sometimes also on the second night of celebration). During this traditional feast, the Haggadah, a text that outlines the Sedar, is used to tell the Passover story and also celebrate the occasion through the saying of certain prayers, the eating of food that the Jews ate during their captivity and liberation, singing certain songs, and welcoming Elijah.

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