This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious and spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

March 26th, 2013 is the beginning of Passover/Pesach (beginning at sundown the night before).

Chag sameach (Happy Holiday)

Context

Passover is a seven day (8 days for Jews not in Israel) Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt 3,300 years ago. The Bible tells the story of the Jewish people enslaved in Egypt for centuries who were then freed by God through the leadership of the prophet Moses. God inflicted 10 plagues on the Egyptians to demonstrate his holiness and power to the Pharaoh who did not believe in monotheism. The tenth plague was the death of all the first-borns (humans and animals) in Egypt. The Israelites were instructed to mark their homes with the blood of a slaughtered lamb and then to eat the lamb for their evening meal. This act demonstrated ultimate trust in God to pass over Hebrew families and not inflict this plague on their families. Overcome with grief for his own first-born son, the Pharaoh acknowledged God and released the Israelites from slavery.

 

Significance

Tradition states that the Israelites were in such a hurry to leave Egypt that they did not wait for bread dough to rise. To commemorate their flight, only unleavened bread is eaten during Passover, which is also called “The Festival of the Unleavened Bread.” Mazo bread is a symbol of the holiday. Biblical instructions for the original Passover meal are still followed by Jewish tradition today. Messianic Jews and some Christians also observe Passover.

Remembering God’s actions of saving his people is an important tenant of this holiday: ”For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. 7 Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. 8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.” (Exodus 13:6-10)

Matzo bread

Rituals/Traditions

  1. Passover Sedar meal (Click here to read more!)
  2. Burning chametz (leavening ingredients) to remove all of it from the home
  3. Cleaning the whole house, to make the house kosher
  4. Eating lamb for Sedar, all meat of the lamb must be consumed before morning
  5. Baking matzo in the weeks before Passover
  6. Fast of the Firstborn
  7. Sedar is celebrated in the home, rather than the synagogue
  8. Inviting guests to the Sedar meal
  9. Hallel and Nirtzah – songs of praise, thanksgiving, and re-dedication in remembrance of liberation
  10. Sedar traditions are meant to peak the interest of children and engage them in the rituals

Additional Resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/passover/

http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/871715/jewish/What-Is-Passover.htm

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/first-day-of-passover

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