Passover, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrating the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt in biblical times. Jews celebrate Passover with a special ritual dinner called a “Seder” and the recitation of the story of the Jews' escape from slavery in Egypt, called the “Haggadah.”

Although Jews make up a small minority of the American population, the American media often report on the coming of the holiday. It relates to the Christian Easter in that it occurs during the same spring season. The “Last Supper” held by Christ for his disciples before his crucifixion was a Passover dinner. Non-Jews who work with Jews typically adjust their schedules to take the Jewish celebration of Passover into consideration.

In American food markets in some areas, you may see special sections of foods specifically authorized for Passover consumption. While only some American Jews “keep kosher,” meaning they consume only specially authorized foods all year round, a larger group will adhere to the special “kosher for Passover” strictures. Prime among these is the requirement to eat only unleavened bread. The Jewish version of this is a flatbread called matzo (or matzoh).

Secular Jews who ignore most of the dozens of Jewish holidays celebrated by religious Jews, may organize a Passover Seder, with the option of using a secular “Haggadah,” often concentrating on the struggles of the Jews as an ethnic group rather than as a religion. Other holidays usually acknowledged by secular Jews include Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and Chanukah (which occurs around the time of Christmas).

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