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The Story of Passover

Retold by Rohini Chowdhury

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Jews all over the world celebrate Passover in commemoration of their liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt, and the 'passing over' of the forces of destruction over their homes as the Angel of Death spared the first born of the Israelites on the eve of Exodus.

Passover begins with the 15th and ends with the 21st day of the Jewish month of Nisan (March or April). On the first night of Passover, a special family meal called the seder is held. During the week of Passover, all leaven is forbidden. So only unleavened bread - matzo - may be eaten during this period. Matzo symbolized both the suffering of the Hebrews in slavery in Egypt, as well as the haste with which they left Egypt during the Exodus.

Now read the story that lies behind the festival...

In ancient Egypt, more than three thousand years ago, ruled the Pharaoh Ramses II. Under him the land of Egypt prospered, for he was a strong and powerful ruler. One of Pharaoh's closest friends and advisers was Moses, a foundling, who had been brought up in the royal court by one of the princesses as her own son. But Moses was a Hebrew, not an Egyptian, and his people were slaves under Ramses II.

One day Moses saw an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave, and he was so angry that he killed the Egyptian. Moses then fled to Midian, where he lived for many years as a shepherd. One day, while tending his flock, Moses saw a burning bush.

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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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