For many Jews, Passover is the most important of all Jewish holidays. In fact, more Jewish Americans observe Passover than any other Jewish holiday – even more than lighting Hanukkah candles. In Hebrew the name of the holiday is Pesach, with a guttural sound forming the final consonant of the word – the same sound that ends the name of the famous composer, Bach.
Passover’s popularity is partly because it’s the holiday in which we retell the foundational story of Jewish history, the Exodus from Egypt. If you’re familiar with the Exodus story, the holiday is named for the part of the story in which God is getting ready to smite the Egyptians with the tenth and final plague. God instructs the Hebrew slaves to mark their homes and warns them that the Angel of Death will be sweeping across all of Egypt, killing the first born sons of all that live, but that the Angel will pass over and spare the first born sons of every home that bears the designated mark.
Passover is also a big deal because many Jewish families come together to share a special celebratory meal called the seder. Imagine a holiday with the importance of Thanksgiving, but without the breaded stuffing.
Passover is a week-long festival, usually falling somewhere in March or April. (The Jewish calendar is based mainly on the lunar calendar, and so Jewish holidays fall on different dates on the secular American calendar from year to year.) This year, Passover begins the evening of April 22.
To learn more about the Passover story, preparing for the seder, time-honored and modern traditions, recipes and ways to engage your children in the holiday, check out our Passover Guide for Interfaith Families.
Also ,watch our cool, 90-second video, How To Do a Seder Plate.