It’s almost time to break out the matzo. Passover arrives on March 25 this year, when Jews across the world will come together to retell the Exodus story over four cups of wine (or grape juice for those who can't indulge), and of course, a large, festive feast.
As the story goes, during their flight from slavery, the Jews did not have enough time for their dough to rise, resulting in a flaky cracker that is eaten instead of bread for a full week during Passover. The diet changes go beyond bread, however, and depend on family tradition. As a general rule, just look for the “Kosher for Passover” label, which thankfully spreads to more products year after year.
Prior to the holiday, Jews clean their homes and get rid of chametz—food that is forbidden during Passover. The day before, this year on March 24, kids have the chance to search their homes by candlelight for any pieces of chametz left behind.
On the first two nights of Passover, a Seder is held. This is when the story of Passover is told with the reading of the Haggadah. Some families even dress up and act out the story. Songs are sung, including "Dayenu," and as tradition, children sing the Four Questions, or Ma Nishtana. Over the course of the night, four cups of wine are consumed to celebrate freedom. Bitter herbs are also eaten as a reminder of the pain of the Jewish slaves.
The middle of the holiday, from March 28 to 31, is an intermediate period, or Chol HaMoed, when there are fewer restrictions. On these days more observant Jews are allowed to drive and use electronics, and in rare instances, work. The final two days of Passover fall on April 1 and 2, and are considered Holy Days.
How do you celebrate Passover? Tell us in the comments below.
Here are some Mercer Island resources and notes for your Passover needs. For those we've missed, be sure to share in the comments.
· Stopsky's Delicatessen has updated Passover dishes, which will be available on its menu all next week.
· Island Crust Cafe will be closed March 25-April 2 for the holiday.
· The Stroum Jewish Community Center will have the following closure hours for Passover:
- Monday, March 25
ECS-Seattle closes at 2:30 p.m.
ECS-Mercer Island and SJCC offices close at 3 p.m.
Pool closes at 4:45 p.m.
Health and Fitness and building close at 5 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 26
- After March 26, the J will be open regular hours.
- The center is also offering a Passover: School's Out camp program March 27-29.
· For some educational fun with the kids, check out the Rugrats Passover special here.