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Passover in Denver

What is Passover and how to celebrate in Denver

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Happy Passover! Passover is April 15-23 and we asked Rabbi Emily Segal of the Aspen Jewish Congregation for some insights about this special Jewish holiday. 

What Is Passover? 

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is a Jewish springtime festival holiday.  In the ancient days of the Israelites it was one of the three Pilgrimage Festivals during which the Israelites would come from all over the Promised Land to the Temple in Jerusalem to bring offerings and express gratitude for the harvest and for life itself.   Passover is specifically tied to the Exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and is, therefore, a celebration of freedom and the triumph of the vulnerable and impoverished over the powerful, dictatorial oppressor.  The Torah (Hebrew scriptures) tells that the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for over 400 years and their cries became louder and more desperate as bit by bit, the cruelty of their enslavement increased.  Therefore God miraculously brought them out of Egypt, enabling the Israelite Moses and his siblings Miriam and Aaron to become leaders of the Israelites who would guide them out of Egypt and into freedom.

How Is Passover Celebrated Today?

In modern times, Passover is celebrated as a 7-day observance (or 8 days outside of Israel in Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox communities).  It begins at sundown (as all Jewish holidays do) of the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan; the timing varies on the Gregorian calendar as the Jewish calendar is lunar but it typically falls during March or April.  On first two evenings of Passover, families and communities come together for Seder meals, which are a special rituals commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and celebrating the renewal of world each spring.  Symbolic foods are eaten, songs are sung, prayers are spoken, and the story of the Exodus is told.  Key to the Seder is the asking of questions, including about the meaning of the ritual and symbolic foods and the personal meaning that may resonate within each person about release from restriction and finding freedom from that which keeps us from living fully.

During the Seder and throughout the entire festival, Jewish people refrain from eating Chametz, leaven. In Ashkenazic communities (communities descended from Eastern European locations), this is further restricted to include refraining from foods that expand or rise when cooked or baked, such as rice and beans.  Instead, Matzah (cracker-like flatbread made specifically for Passover) is eaten and a special blessing is uttered for the eating of Matzah as a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt.  The first and final day of the holiday are a particularly special observance; in most communities these are days when, much like on Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath), no work is to be done to enable Jewish people to fully participate in and focus on the observance of the holiday with family, friends, and community.

How to Celebrate Passover in Denver

First Night Community Passover Seder, Friday, April 15 from 6-9 p.m. Join together for Temple Emanuel’s First Night Community Passover Seder in their Social Hall. The dinner will be buffet-style catered by A Perfect Pear. https://www.emanueldenver.org

Community Passover Seder, Friday, April 15 at 7 p.m. Enjoy as the story of exodus comes alive through mystical and kabbalistic insights explained through humor and melody  along with a full-course catered Seder feast, with all the traditional delicacies, Matzah from Israel – and lots of wine.  https://www.denverjewishcenter.com

Zaidy’s Deli and Bakery. Zaidy’s famous Passover menu is back, and it’s easy to use and delicious. Learn more: https://www.zaidysdeli.com/

Easter Side Kosher Deli. This Kosher deli, supermarket and restaurant has lots of great options for your kosher meal. https://www.eastsidekosherdeli.com/

Kid-friendly Passover Ideas

Ella and Noah Celebrate Passover Activity Book. Bring beautifully illustrated Passover scenes to life with over 150 matching stickers: help with Passover cleaning, join the family for the Seder, find the Afikoman and tell the stories of the 10 plagues and the Exodus from Egypt.

Passover Family. Teach babies and toddlers about this important Jewish festival by exploring what happens during the Passover seder with this delightful photographic board book. 

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