Pesach (PEH-sach in Hebrew): A Celebration of Liberation

Sundown, Monday, April 22 – Sundown, Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Students will not be dropped from a class for not attending that day in observance of this holiday. Please email your instructors if this applies to you.  

Passover: Found in the Torah and according to the Jewish calendar, the month of Nisan (or NIssan) , (April 2- May 1) is the “season of liberation. Every Passover, it is a celebration of the courage Jewish ancestors who dared to be free in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds where Miriam stepped out first and fiercely led her people to safety after years of enslavement." It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from 400 years of slavery in ancient Egypt and their ultimate exodus to freedom. This story of redemption from slavery is the “master-story” of the Jewish People – a story that has shaped Jewish consciousness and values. It also refers to the 10th plague that killed the Egyptian firstborn, but miraculously “passed over” the houses of the Israelites. In the end, six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day and began the trek to Mount Sinai.

The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are full-fledged holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night, and kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and days. We don’t go to work, drive, write, or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (click here for the details). The middle four days are called Chol Hamoed, semi-festive “intermediate days,” when most forms of work are permitted.

Seder - Pronounciation (SAY-der)

The first Seder will be on April 22 after nightfall, and the second Seder will be on April 23 after nightfall.

Pesach is observed by avoiding leaven, and highlighted by the Seder meals that include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.  

The Seder is the traditional Passover meal that includes reading, drinking 4 cups of wine, telling stories, eating special foods, singing, and other Passover traditions. It is a significant part of the Jewish holiday of Passover and is typically held on the first two nights of Passover.  The word “Seder” itself means “order” in Hebrew, emphasizing the structured nature of the meal and its associated customs. It is a carefully choreographed ritual meal that takes place on the eve of Passover at home with family and friends or with the community. It is both a sumptuous feast as well as an educational experience for children and adults alike.

Haggadah- Pronounciation

During the Seder, participants follow a specific order of rituals and readings from the Haggadah, a special text that guides the proceedings. It begins with a child asking the traditional “Four Questions.”

To create a personalized Haggadah- check out this great resource: Make Your Own Passover Haggadah

For an inclusive and nonpatriarchal Haggadah: Night of Beginnings by Marcia Falk.

For a Haggadah in racial solidarity, 1969 Freedom Seder: "It would not be sufficient" | Jewish Women's Archive

To Learn More about Jewish Identity and for Cultural Consultation:

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