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Lenten Fact

Passover is the first of three major festivals that have historical and agricultural significance. It is the beginning of the harvest season in Israel although nobody really pays any mind to this. The Hebrew word Pesach means to pass through or exempt. The Passover recalls the biblical story from the book of Exodus. God passed over the houses of the Jews that were marked with the blood of the lamb when he was slaying all the first born sons in Egypt.

Jews remove all leavened bread from their homes for Passover to symbolize that they were once nomadic and always in a hurry — so much so that they couldn’t let their bread rise.

On the first night of Passover, there is a special family meal called a Seder. Many scholars believe the Christian Last Supper was a seder meal although this is disputed by others. The word seder means “order” — there is a specific set of information that must be discussed in a specific order throughout the meal.

Jews retell the story of the Exodus, often in song, and many blessings and symbols of the bitterness of slavery (eating bitter herbs) are sprinkled throughout the meal. Children play a major role in the meal, asking how this night differs from the usual weekly Shabbat meal and finding the hidden matzoh. This serves a practical purpose as well as a religious one — the meal is long and children may fall asleep if they are not engaged.

The closing prayer expressed the hope of celebrating next year’s Passover in Jerusalem (meaning that the Messiah will appear.)

Fast from solitude. Make plans to share a meal today.

Pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters this Passover. We are all spiritual Semites.

Give by reaching out to a family member or friend.

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