Happy Passover!

April 21, 2023

Chag Sameach! The Valley of Boston hopes that all of our Jewish Brothers had a Happy Passover throughout the festival last week. Passover, like all Jewish holidays, is celebrated according to dates in its lunar calendar. Specifically, it begins at sundown on 15 Nisan and ends at nightfall on 22 Nisan. Normally this will correspond with the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, which was set mathematically to ensure the holiday marks the beginning of Spring. However, the date was originally related to the ripeness of the Spring barley crop.

Passover celebrates the story of Shemot in the Torah, or what Christians instead call Exodus in the Bible. The Hebrew Shemot roughly translates to “names” and is derived from the first sentence of the book: “Now these are the names of the children of Israel.” As the story goes, the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptian Pharaoh. To convince the Pharaoh to release them, Yahweh appeared to Moses and granted him powers through a staff. Yahweh then called down ten plagues in Egypt and the final plague was the killing of every firstborn son in Egypt. To spare the Israelites, Yahweh instructed them to mark their doors with lambs’ blood and they would be “passed over”. This final plague was enough and Pharaoh released them.

The two most important days are the first and last days of Passover. On the first day, the family is supposed to have a Passover Sedar, which is both a feast and ritualistic retelling of the story of Shemot. Before the destruction of the Temple, large enough families were supposed to slaughter a Paschal Lamb for their entire family, while smaller families would have an offering with a group of families. During the Sedar, families perform a series of rituals, beginning with Kadeish and ending with Nirtzah. Meanwhile, the last day of Passover is marked with prayer and relaxation of Chametz restrictions.

We hope that our Jewish Brothers had a Happy Passover, and urge all of our Brothers to recognize this important time of year for people of all faiths around the world.

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