top of page

The Passover

Last week, Jewish people all over the world celebrated Passover (Pesach). This year, the holiday began on April 22 with a special meal called the Seder, and ended at sunset April 30. During this week-long celebration, only unleavened bread is eaten. We know this as Matzoh. The Matzoh is eaten to remember when Moses led the enslaved Jews out of Egypt. It was all they had time to prepare that night they made
their way across the Red Sea to escape the enslavers. We all remember that miraculous journey. So really, Passover is a celebration of freedom from slavery and suffering.

The Seder plate, which commemorates the freeing of the Jews from the Egyptian enslavers, is prepared with different foods which remind us symbolically from whence we came. It consists of a piece of Matzoh, Charoset ( a dark mixture of nuts sweet wine and fruits), Zeroa (Lamb shankbone), Beitza (hard boiled egg), Chazaret (lettuce or endives), Maror (horseradish), Karpas (parsley) and a small bowl of saltwater.

The Maror and Charoset are "bitter herbs" which symbolize the harshness and bitterness that the Hebrews endured during the their enslavement and later during the Roman invasions. It reminds us of the mortor (mud) used by the enslaved Israelites to make adobe bricks. Karpas refers to the parsely (or other greens) dipped in saltwater to commemorate the salty tears recalling the suffering and at the same time celebrating new beginnings and hope. The Zeroa (lamb shank) symbolizes the "Korban Pesach", the sacrifice offered in the Temple in Jerusalem during it's destruction in 70 AD. Likewise, the Beitzah reminds of the destruction of the Temple and celebrates the festivals held at the temple before it was destroyed by the Roman soldiers. The egg is dipped in saltwater to remember the pain felt by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt before the Exodus.

Coincidently, this year Earth Day fell on the first day of Passover. Easter was celebrated on March 31. Many people understand that the "Last Supper" was simply a Seder, celebrated by Jesus with friends and family. Historically, this Seder took place during the middle of the Passover week. The Romans captured Jesus after that, once they learned of his location, probably on what became known as "Ash Wednesday".
That Friday, they executed him. When Jesus rose again that Sunday, his followers believed that he was resurrected as Jesus the Christ. Today the Resurrection is known and celebrated as the Easter holiday, but there is more.

It is significant that Earth day is celebrated every year around the Passover and Easter. Earth Day celebrates spring, new growth and fertility; the Passover holiday remembers the pain and suffering as the Israelites made their way to freedom as well as affirming new beginnings, spring and fertility. When the Seder is complete, the last words spoken are: "Next year in Jerusalem".

Remembering that the Seder meal celebrates new growth, spring and fertility as well, it is significant that the term "Easter" is rooted in the German word "Ostern". This name had its origin in "Eostre', the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of the dawn.

Christians now recognize and celebrate the holiday as Easter; Jews celebrate this time of remembrance and redemption from slavery as Passover into new beginnings, i.e., resurrection. No matter whether we show up as Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, New Thought, etc., the Passover is an affirmation of our lives as the freedom to be who we are: not enslavement, not injustice, not hate. The Resurrection, i.e., Easter, is exactly the same: new life. By affirming the basic right of freedom, with respect for all, we celebrate new growth and welcome life with open arms.

bottom of page