Lamb. This symbol represents the lamb sacrificed as the Passover offering. Significance of this Month
Nisan is the first month of the Jewish calendar, and the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh was given on Nisan. According to the Mishnah, Rosh Chodesh Nisan is one of four New Years marked by the Jewish calendar. It marks the New Year for counting the rule of kings and for the holiday cycle.HolidaysPassover
begins on the 15th of Nisan. Passover marks the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. On the first two nights, Jews around the world gather to celebrate the Passover Seder. Tradition teaches that the seventh day of Passover marks the day that the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. After their miraculous rescue, they burst into song. Miriam led the women in their own song.
On the Shabbat that falls during Passover, we read the Song of Songs in synagogue. This Biblical book tells the story of two young lovers and is often understood as a metaphor for God's relationship to the Jewish people.
The second night of Passover marks the beginning of the Counting of the Omer. This represents a seven-week period culminating in the holiday of Shavuot. Originally, the Omer represented a daily barley offering that was brought in the Temple. Over the years it has developed into a penitential period leading from the Exodus of Passover to the receiving of the Torah on Shavuot. According to tradition, 24,000 pairs of Rabbi Akiva's students died during this period. Every night we count the Omer by indicating how many days and weeks have passed since the beginning of the period.
Drawing on the fact that Rosh Chodesh Nisan marks the New Year for Kings, the State of Israel has designated it as a day to honor its former prime ministers and presidents. It is customary each year to focus on one deceased president and prime minister, with individuals and institutions receiving prizes from the incumbent president and prime minister.
The 27th of Nisan is Yom Hazikaron L'shoah V'l'giborah, or Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, more commonly known as Yom Hashoah
. This day commemorates the six million Jews who died during the Holocaust. At the same time, it marks the anniversary of the heroic Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. In Israel a siren is sounded and people stand in silence to honor the dead. Jews around the world hold memorials and vigils, often lighting six candles in honor of the Six Million Holocaust victims. Many hold name-reading ceremonies to memorialize those who perished.Women to CelebrateMiriam
- Miriam is one of seven prophetesses in our tradition. Miriam figures prominently in the Passover story and in the Israelites' celebration at the Red Sea. According to tradition, the Children of Israel had water in the desert for 40 years because of Miriam.
Shifra and Puah - The Hebrew midwives who refused to obey Pharaoh's commandment to kill Hebrew boys. According to tradition, Shifra was Yocheved, Moses' mother, and Puah was Miriam. In Tel Aviv the maternity hospital is located at the intersection of Shifra and Puah Streets.
Serach bat Asher - The daughter of Asher, the son of Jacob and namesake of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Midrashic literature links Serach to the Exodus story and the rest of Jewish history. Serach offers a wonderful female character to incorporate into the Passover story. As her character is developed in the midrashic sources, she also raises important questions about Jewish memory.
Rachel bat Kalba Savua -- She married Rabbi Akiva and according to some sources is responsible for his rise to prominence as a Torah scholar. For more details about her life and achievements, see Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Nusach B, Chapter 8.Anne Frank
- A young German Jewish teenager who went into hiding from the Nazis with her family. Though Anne was captured and eventually killed, her memory lives on in the diary that she kept. Her story was made into a play, which is often performed on Yom Hashoah.Hannah Senesh
- A paratrooper in the British Army, Hannah helped to organize Partisan efforts in Yugoslovia and Hungary. She was captured by the Nazis who tortured her and killed her in 1944. Hannah wrote poetry that is often read and sung in Holocaust memorial services.Famous Women's YahrzeitsMolly Picon
- 3 Nisan 5752 (April 6, 1992). Actress, dancer.Bella Abzug
- 4 Nisan 5758 (March 31, 1998). Feminist, civil rights activist, Congresswoman.Miriam the Prophetess
- 10 Nisan.Rachel Blaustein
- One of Modern Hebrew's greatest poets, she is known by her first name only, "Rachel." Rachel's poetry is lyrical, excelling in its musical tone, simple language and depth of feeling. Her love poems stress a feeling of loneliness, distance, and longing for the beloved. Other poems deal with human fate, with the poet's relation to her own difficult life, and death. Some of her best-known verse expresses love for the Land of Israel and nostalgia for the Sea of Galilee, where she grew up.Text Studies
Serach bat Asher - Learn more about the daughter of Asher, one of the 12 Tribes of Israel. She receives very little mention in the Bible, but is depicted extensively in Midrashic literature, which says that Serach never died. Serach offers a wonderful female character to incorporate into the Passover story. As her character is developed in the Midrashic sources, she also raises important questions about Jewish memory.Serach Bat Asher
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version 4.0 or higher.] The Charoset Riddle
- Everybody loves this dish of apples, nuts, and wine that is served at the Passover Seder. Not as well known is the Talmud's connection of this dish to the heroic actions of the Israelite women. This text study explores that connection.Activities
Plant a Window Herb Garden - This is a wonderful way to celebrate the onset of spring. Certain herbs (parsley, horseradish, etc.) figure prominently in the Passover Seder.
Kite Making - What better way to celebrate spring than to fly a kite?! Kits can be purchased on the Internet or at craft stores.
The Shifra and Puah Award - Al Axelrad, the Hillel rabbi at Brandeis University for three decades, established this annual award for non-violent resistance to tyranny. He named it after the midwives who resisted and outsmarted Pharaoh and saved the Hebrew infants from drowning. To whom would you give this award this year?Conversations
Feelings about Spring - Spring is the season of rebirth. In much of the country, the weather turns warmer, the trees begin to blossom, and the birds return from their winter migration. How do you feel as this season begins?Passover
- How do you celebrate Passover? Does your family have any unique Passover customs? What freedoms do you celebrate? How is Passover different now that you are away at college?
Personal Connections to the Holocaust - As we commemorate Yom Hashoah
, have a conversation about the impact of the Holocaust on members of the group. Was their family directly affected by the Holocaust? Do they know any Holocaust Survivors? Has anyone in the group been on a trip to the Concentration Camps, such as March of the Living?