It's almost time to break out the matzo. Passover arrives on March 25 this year, when Jews across the world will come together to retell the Exodus story over four cups of wine (or grape juice for those who can't indulge), and of course, a large, festive feast.
As the story goes, during their flight from slavery, the Jews did not have enough time for their dough to rise, resulting in a flaky cracker that is eaten instead of bread for a full week during Passover. The diet changes go beyond bread, however, and depend on family tradition. As a general rule, just look for the "Kosher for Passover" label, which, thankfully, spreads to more products year after year.
Prior to the observance, Jews clean their homes and get rid of chametz—food that is forbidden during Passover. Check to see if any of your local food pantries will accept your chametz or if your fire department is holding a safe burning of the chametz. The day before—March 24 this year—kids have the chance to search their homes by candlelight for any pieces of chametz left behind.
On the first two nights of Passover, a Seder is held. This is when the story of Passover is told with the reading of the Haggadah. Some families even dress up and act out the story. Songs are sung, including "Dayenu," and as tradition, children sing the Four Questions, or Ma Nishtana. Over the course of the night, four cups of wine are consumed to celebrate freedom. Bitter herbs are also eaten as a reminder of the pain of the Jewish slaves.
The middle of the Passover observance, from March 28 to 31, is an intermediate period, or Chol HaMoed, when there are fewer restrictions. On these days, more observant Jews are allowed to drive and use electronics, and in rare instances, work. The final two days of Passover fall on April 1 and 2, and are considered Holy Days.
Here are some local resources for all of your Passover needs:
- Kuhn's Market, 3125 Banksville Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15216
- Giant Eagle, 1717 Cochran Rd., Mt. Lebanon, PA 15220
- Trader Joe's, 1630 Washington Rd., Upper St. Clair, PA 15241
- Jewish Community Center, 345 Kane Blvd., Scott, PA 15243
Places of Worship
- Beth El Congregation of South Hills, 1900 Cochran Rd., Scott, PA 15220
- Temple Emanuel of South Hills, 1250 Bower Hill Rd., Mt. Lebanon, PA 15243
For some educational fun with the kids, check out the "Rugrats" Passover special here.