VALDOSTA — “And you shall tell your children that on that day the Lord has took you out from the house of bondage” — The Passover Hagadah
The festival of Passover calls for early and elaborate preparations to make the Jewish home fitting for the great festival.
The Jewish Festival of Passover commemorates the celebration of the historical Exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage 3,300 years ago.
We read in Exodus 12, of the first institution of the Festival of including the Passover offering which symbolized the first act of freedom; the religious commandment to eat the Unleavened Bread or Matza during all eight days of the festival.
The first observance of Passover was celebrated in Egypt known as a Seder or Passover Offering followed by the Exodus itself at midnight.
Leviticus 23:4 relates to Passover as a Festival of the Lord among other major sacred occasions; and in Numbers 28:16 the Torah describes the Passover offering. These are the major references in the Torah (Five Books of Moses). At the same time, Judaism refers to Passover as the Spring Festival, celebrating the “rebirth” of the earth after the long winter.
The events leading to bondage in Egypt begin with the Patriarch Jacob and his family coming to Egypt 400 years earlier escaping famine in Canaan. A new Pharaoh rose who did not recognize Joseph’s accomplishments, and began to enslave the Children of Israel through forced labor and intimidations, building cities as Pithom and Raamses out of bricks made of mud and straw.
Moses, a son to a Levite family, becomes their spokesman and delivers an uncompromising message of God to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Let My people go that they may celebrate a festival for Me in the wilderness.”
The major observance of Passover held in the homes and communities on the first two nights of the holiday is a festive, ritual meal called Seder, which includes prescribed texts, songs, special food and prayers of praise, and the story of the exodus is told, reenacted, and explained.
Passover begins at sunset today, April 6, and continues for a full eight days. A traditional community-wide kosher for Passover Seder will be held at Temple Israel of Valdosta, 511 Baytree Road, 7 p.m. today. RSVP for the Seder is made by calling Temple Israel, 244-1813.
A Joyous Passover wishes to the entire community.