Learning About Passover

A Seder table setting

Not familiar with Jewish traditions but want to celebrate the upcoming Passover holiday for someone special in your life? Or, maybe you find yourself invited to a Seder dinner and want to know what to expect? Or, you might just be curious to learn about anything to do with Passover. Often non-Jewish friends and family are asked to join in the Passover celebration. Here are some tips and available resources to guide you through the holiday.

What is Passover?

Passover Seder 5771 - The Seder Plate by Edsel L (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Passover Seder 5771 – The Seder Plate by Edsel L (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A good place to start is with taking a look at the history of Passover and its customs and traditions. There are certain tasks that are done to prepare for Passover before it even begins. And there is more to Passover than the Seder; the entire holiday lasts seven or eight days.

Seder

The Seder is a festive meal which means “order,” because there are specific steps when and how the rituals are performed. Be aware that a Seder can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, some even go on into the late hours of the night.

Don’t want to show up empty-handed to the Seder dinner? Don’t know what gift to bring your gracious host? Many groceries and supermarkets set-up special displays of kosher products during Passover. Or, maybe try making your own Passover treat; there are some great recipes and cookbooks, even some vegan options.

The Haggadah

Haggadah (huh-GAH-duh) translates to “the telling;” it is the book read during the Seder that tells the tale of the enslaved Israelites and their escape from Egypt. The Haggadah explains the foods on the Seder plate and includes blessings and prayers, songs, time for questions and stories.

More Ways to Study Passover

  • Read up on Seder and the Haggadah; besides visiting your local library, there is also a good selection of books available on Amazon.
  • Listen to audio classes and lectures on assorted Passover topics.
  • Watch videos on how Matzah and kosher wine, learn more about the Seder Plate, etc. Explanations and what to expect during Passover can also be viewed on YouTube.
  • Enrich your Passover experience with traditional songs and stories old and new.

Some Final Suggestions

  • You can greet your Passover hosts with “Happy Holiday”: “Chag Sameach!” (CHAHG sah-MAY-ach).
  • Do not be shy to ask questions; questions are welcome as they are already part of the Seder rituals.
  • E-greeting cards are a great choice to send – whether you want to say “thank you” for being invited to a Seder, or just want to send someone “best Passover wishes.”

Unfamiliar religious celebrations can be stressful if you are worried about making a good impression – but know that inviting guests to Passover is considered a blessing; “Let all who are hungry, come and eat.” Just remember to take a deep breath and enjoy!