Perplexed about Passover? We’ve Got You Covered



March 29, 2023

With good food, good drink, an epic story, and lively conversation, it’s no wonder Passover is one of the most celebrated Jewish holidays in the world. This year, Passover begins on the evening of April 5th, and ends on April 13th. Here are some common Passover customs and rituals, including some helpful hints for celebrating Passover on campus:

About the Passover Seder:

Every year, Jewish people tell and retell the miraculous story of the enslaved Israelites’ exodus from Egypt during a festive meal called a Seder (Say-der). In Hebrew, Seder means order. In other words, a Seder is a ritual that combines education, food, singing and storytelling, all in a particular order. Intentionally designed to engage people of all ages, Seders are held on the first and second night of Passover (in Israel, Seders are only held on the first night of Passover).

Passover Themes to Think About:

Justice: Passover is an opportunity to reflect on our personal relationships with freedom, liberation, and systems of oppression. We pose questions such as, “In what ways do I – or others in my community – continue to seek full freedom and liberation?” Or, “What responsibilities come with the freedoms I enjoy?

Friends & Family: Like most Jewish holidays, Passover is typically celebrated together with the people closest to us. Together, we delight in conversation, singing, enjoying good food, and story-telling.

Spiritual Spring Cleaning: Spring-cleaning is an important theme of Passover. Many people deep clean their homes, cars, and offices in preparation for the holiday. Additionally, many folks view Passover as an invitation to do “spiritual spring cleaning” designed to help us release what hasn’t served us over the last year, and to make room for new blessings.

Holy Bites: It wouldn’t be a Jewish holiday without lots of great food! Jews all over the world celebrate Passover with special dishes unique to their family traditions. Additionally, some Passover foods hold special ritual significance, such as matzah (mah-tsah, a flat, cracker-like bread), charoset (kha-ro-set, a paste made from dried fruits, wine, and nuts), and bitter herbs like horseradish.

Celebrating Passover on Campus

Attending a Seder or celebrating Passover on campus this year? Here are a few tips and tricks for celebrating Passover or supporting someone you know in their celebration:

Ask Questions! A big part of Passover is asking questions. If you’d like to learn more about Passover, Hillel staff are always there to discuss your questions, big and small. 

Learn the Lingo: The common way to wish someone a happy holiday during Passover is “Happy Passover!” You can also say “Happy Pesach!” (Pesach, or pay-sah-kh is the Hebrew name for Passover.)

Notice Your Menu: It is customary to avoid eating “leavened” food during Passover. This includes bread, pasta, and other grains. Some folks will only eat certified “kosher for Passover” items during Passover. If you’re attending a Seder and wondering what you can bring as a gift, whole, fresh fruit is a great option!

We hope this guide is helpful and we’re wishing you all a Happy Passover filled with friends, family, and lotsa matzah!