Passover

The Jewish spring festival celebrating freedom and family as we remember the Exodus from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago

What is Passover?

Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is a major Jewish spring festival celebrating freedom and family as we remember the Exodus from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. The main observances of this holiday center around a special home service called the sedersederסֵדֶר"Order;" ritual dinner that includes the retelling of the story of the Israelite's Exodus from Egypt; plural: sederim. , which includes a festive meal, the prohibition on eating chametzchametzחָמֵץFoods not eaten during Passover. Chametz typically includes leavened bread or any food that contains wheat, rye, barley, oats, or spelt, unless production has been supervised to ensure that it has not leavened. , and the eating of matzahmatzahמַצָּהUnleavened bread eaten during the seder that symbolizes the hurried departure of the Israelites from Egypt. Eating matzah is obligatory only at the seder. During the rest of Pesach, one may abstain from matzah as long as all chametz is avoided; plural: matzot .

On the 15th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, Jews gather with family and friends in the evening to read from a book called the HaggadahHaggadahהַגָּדָהLiterally, “telling.” This is the Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover seder. Plural: Haggadot.  , meaning "telling," which contains the order of prayers, rituals, readings, and songs for the Passover seder. The Haggadah helps us retell the events of the Exodus, so that each generation may learn and remember this story that is so central to Jewish life and history.

Passover is celebrated for either seven or eight days, depending on family and communal custom. In Israel and for most Reform Jews around the world, Passover is seven days, but for many other Jews, it is eight days.

Family Activities

Chocolate Seder for Children

The Chocolate Seder is not intended to replace your family’s seder, but rather it is a “practice run,” a family activity designed to acquaint children with the order, songs, and customs of the seder before the fact.

Haggadot for Young Children

Seder for Children 2-3 Years Old

Seder for Children 4-5 Years Old

View All Family Activities

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Pieces of matzah on a platter and scattered on a teal surface and topped with chocolate hearts

Learn About Counting the Omer

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Counting of the Omer: Blessing for Each Day

The seven-weeks between Passover and Shavuot is known as “the omer” period. An omer (“sheaf”) was an ancient measure of grain, and refers to the barley offering brought to the Temple on the second day of Passover. Starting on that day, the Torah instructs: “you shall count off seven weeks. Learn how to count the Omer, commencing on the second night of Passover.

Passover Videos

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passover seder plate

Video: What Goes on the Seder Plate?

Learn about the parts of the Passover seder plate.

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Passover Seder with Blue Tablecloth

Find a Congregation

Find a welcoming Reform congregation near you.

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Passover Greetings!

Send free e-cards and add a recipe, blessing, or video.

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watching a seder at home. White women saying kaddish.

Passover Events

Find a virtual or in-person Passover event at a Reform congregation near you.

Find a Congregation Near You

Find connection, community, learning, and spirituality at a welcoming Reform congregation near you.

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Congregation Beth Am photo at Pride March

 

Passover Social Action Guide

Passover is rich in social justice themes. Here are a few ways to incorporate social action themes into your holiday observance.

What's New

Dayenu: The Power of Enough-ness

Last year was my first time celebrating Passover and one of the first times I sang with the congregational choir. One of the songs we performed for the seder was "Dayenu." The choir director explained during practice that in Hebrew, "dayenu" means "enough." I loved the melody of the song and found myself humming the tune as I prepared for Passover.