The Festival Of Freedom

Passover: The Festival of Freedom

Passover: The Festival of Freedom

Last night, Jews all over the world celebrated Passover: the festival of freedom.

When I was living with my parents, Passover was a very big deal in many ways. We celebrated the Passover seder both nights and for the rest of the eight days of the holiday.

There were always a minimum of 25 people at each seder. They were long, drawn-out affairs with enough food to feed an army.

The ones I remember the best are the ones led by my maternal grandfather, Morris Sandmel. He was a respected Jewish scholar who advised even the rabbis in St. Louis. He lived into his nineties and outlived five wives! What a joyous man he was.

The Hagadah (the book that is read before and after the meal telling the story of Passover) we used was extensive and had both Hebrew and English versions.

When my girls were small, we would celebrate Passover with friends.

Our seders were one page jobs, with wonderful company and wonderful food. We used a one page Hagadah:

The Story of Passover

Long ago, the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt. Moses pleaded with Pharaoh to let the Jewish people go free. Pharaoh refused, and so God sent plagues upon the Egyptians.

The seas turned to blood. There were frogs everywhere. Cattle died from disease. After each plague Moses went back to Pharaoh and said “Let my people go!” And each time Pharaoh refused.

Finally the tenth plague came. One night all of the firstborn sons of the Egyptians were killed. On that night the Jews put marks on their doors so the “Angel of Death” would pass over their houses and not kill their firstborn. Since Pharaoh’s own son was killed he finally freed the Jews from slavery.

The Jews left Egypt (this is what the word Exodus refers to) and headed back to their homeland: the Land of Israel.

Passover celebrates the freedom of the Jews from slavery. A seder is a special Passover meal where this story is retold and special foods are eaten. The word Seder means order: the story is told and the meal is eaten in a specific order. Here are some of the special foods that are eaten at a Seder:

1. We eat Matza to recall the fact that the Jews left in a hurry and didn’t have time to let their bread rise.

2. We eat bitter herbs usually horseradish that remind us of the bitterness of slavery.

3. Haroset, a mixture of apples and nuts, is the color of bricks and reminds us of the work the slaves had to do.

4. We dip a green vegetable – a sign of spring into salt water, to remind us of the many tears shed by the Jewish slaves.

Passover celebrates many occasions and has a nickname for each one: The Festival of Unleavened Bread,  The Festival of Freedom, and The Festival of Spring.

Enjoy this hilarious video from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart form last year:

This is the type of humor I grew up with. My dad was famous for his puns and jokes.

Seriously, Passover celebrates freedom from slavery.

Now, for many years, I have been seeking a new kind of freedom – freedom from suffering and the causes of suffering. This is the path of the Buddha.

Did you enjoy the video? What are your feelings and thoughts about Passover?

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