This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to celebrate Passover with the family of a friend of mine–if you have never been to a Passover Seder and get a chance to attend one, do it! The celebration of Passover, an eight day holiday in the Jewish calendar, beings with the Passover Seder, a gathering with family and friends for a meal that involves the retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is an interactive celebration that is informative, celebratory, somber, and fun.
A central part of this meal and storytelling is the Passover Seder Plate, a plate adorned with food items that symbolize various parts of the story of the Israelites flight from Egypt. Each of the items represents a sympolic piece of the story, from the maror, or bitter herbs, that represent the bitterness and harshness of slavery, to the charoset, a sweet, brown mixture made of nuts, grated apples, cinnamon, and wine, that symbolizes the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to build the buildings of Egypt.
Food is a key element in the Passover tradition, as the story is told not just in words, but in songs, symbols, flavors, and smells. While many holidays have traditional foods, Passover is one of the few I have experienced that uses food to connect with the history of the holiday so directly. Additionally, while the actual meal served on Passover may vary from home to home, the Passover Seder Plate is virtually the same in every Jewish household, connecting the celebrations of families across the globe with a unifying tradition.
If you are interested in learning more about Passover, or teaching a young person in your life about the traditions of this food-centric holiday, there are some great books available in the Wheelock Library that can help.
Hooray! It’s Passover! is a great first introduction to the traditions of the Passover holiday, and is a great way to get young readers excited about this eight day celebration.
Why on This Night? is a haggadah, the text that establishes the order of the Passover Seder. This family friendly haggadah uses stories, songs, poems, activities, and explanations to guide kids through the traditions of Passover Seder.
Around the Passover Table is an e-cookbook that gives you over 75 recipes for the Passover holiday–happy cooking! And Happy Passover!