Passover 101: Everything you need to know about the Jewish Holiday
posted by: Julie Bielenberg
What is Passover?
It’s a celebration of the exodus of Jews from Egypt where they were slaves. The holiday lasts eight days and reminds Jews of the time when their people were fleeing bondage.
When is Passover?
The dates of Passover change every year, just like Easter. Do they always coincide? Nope, but quite often fall during the same time period. Passover 2017
begins the evening of Monday, April 10, and ends the evening of Tuesday evening, April 18. However, for Jewish people living in Israel, Passover often ends sundown on the evening of Monday. WHY?
How do you celebrate Passover?
There are two Passover Seders that are very important and part of the holiday. There are basically large, elaborate meals with lots of prayer and wine. The first Passover Seder is on the evening of Monday, April 10, and the second Passover Seder takes place on the evening of Tuesday, April 11.
Typical food at a Seder will consist of either a milk-based or meat-based meal as these are kosher principles (don’t mix milk and meat). You also avoid pork and shellfish. Think kugels, briskets, chicken, potatoes, loads of vegetables, etc. There are lots of prayers and wine at a Seder. And, most people will always remember The Four Questions that is typically asked by the youngest member able to read at the Seder table.
However, during Passover, Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern European origins avoid bread and yeast and do not eat vegetables such as beans, rice, corn, and peas because they can be ground into a kind of flour and made into foodstuffs which might appear to be chametz (food with leavened product). So, to guard against the possibility of confusion, legumes were forbidden generations ago. Typically, the five forbidden grains are wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt.
The Seder Plate is what the entire meal focuses upon (in a very basic manner) and has parsley to represent spring, salt water to represent tears of slavery, a shank bone to represent the sacrifice the Israelites made in ancient times, roasted egg or hard boiled egg to represent the land of Israel, bitter herbs, usually horseradish is used and everyone’s favorite—charoset—a combination of wine, cinnamon, nuts and apples.
What’s with the Matzah?
Passover is not meant to be a time of joy, rather, reflection upon the Jewish people and their plight. As a reminder of this time period, Jewish people typically eat Matzah during Seders and throughout the holiday.
Matzah is unleavened bread. It tastes like cardboard, it’s truly not a desirable flavor, but is tradition. It is said that when the Israelites were fleeing the Egyptians, they did not have time for the bread to leaven, and fled with the Matzah instead.
To finish off the evening. Matzah (Afikoman) is taken off the Seder plate and hidden somewhere around the house or area where the Seder is hosted, and children are set loose to find the hidden Matzah. Reward for the super sleuths who find the matzah is usually doled out in dollar bills.
What do I bring?
Stick with flowers, you can’t go wrong with colorful pops of spring, or classic whites. If you want to bring a nice bottle of wine, make sure it is Kosher. All Kosher wine isn’t disgusting, rather, many new labels are popping up from Israel and around the world catering to the kosher consumer.
There is usually a large display in larger grocery stores for Kosher for Passover items. But, if you really want to impress, stop by East Side Kosher Deli, the only exclusively Kosher Deli, Grocery, Restaurant and Caterer in an 8-state area and pick up anything in sight.
“We have everything you need from Matzo and grape juice to briskets & rib roasts. From chocolate Seder mints to imported coconut and flavored olive oil. And of course freshly prepared soups, kugels and full service Passover catering. We are your one stop shop for everything Passover,” states owner Joshua Horowitz.
Top Hostess Items From East Side Kosher Deli:
- Fine wines from around the globe
- Beautiful chocolate gift boxes
- Imported and local gourmet cheeses
- Prime Angus Briskets & Short Ribs
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar