Passover is one of my favorite holidays. Each holiday holds something special to me, but the reason I love Passover so much is because it is filled with traditions. I collect Seder plates and have them displayed all around my home. For Passover I always use the same Seder plate which belonged to my grandparents. Unlike all the other Seder plates this one is not displayed. It sits in a velvet box until it is time to put it on my table. We use the same water pitcher to wash our hands at the table, the same Kiddush cups, etc. As I look around my table I take a moment before all my guests arrive to appreciate were everything came from. My son now uses the Kiddush cup he got at his Bar Mitzvah. I use the cup my grandfather was given when he retired from his Temple in Maryland and we use the matzah covers my brother and I made as children. My family still does a traditional Seder even though the youngest at the table is now 19 years old. For me, my favorite part of the Seder is listening to my parents tell stories about their parents and grandparents at their Seders. Many of the stories I have heard before, but they never get old to me. As I know one day it will be my turn to tell the same stories to my grandchildren.
This year Passover starts at sundown on Friday, April 19. During the Seder it is customary to retell the story of Passover, so we never forget. So, what is the story in a nutshell?
After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking work God heard the people’s cries for help. God asked Moses to go the Pharaoh and asked that the Pharaoh allow the Jewish people to be free, but Pharaoh refused Moses requests. God put a plague on the Egyptian’s to try and convince the Pharaoh to let the people leave. After each plague, Pharaoh would tell Moses if you stop the plague, I will release the Jews. Each time Moses would listen, and the Pharaoh would change is mind until the 10th plague, the worse plague of them all- each family’s first-born son would be killed. Moses told all the Jewish people to put lamb’s blood over their doorways, so the angle of death would “Pass over” their homes. After Pharaoh’s own son died the Jewish people were finally set free. There was no time to wait for the bread to rise before they left Egypt, which is why we now only eat unleavened bread for eight days. After forty years the Jewish people finally made it to the promise land of Israel and therefore we end our Seders by saying: “Next year in Jerusalem.”
My hope for you this Passover is twofold- share your memories with your children about how you celebrated Passover as a child and explain where special symbols have come from, like my Seder plate or an old Kiddush cup. I also hope you start your own family traditions so one day your children and grandchildren can share their own special memories and traditions.