'Pesach' or Passover
Seder Plate by Jackie Designs http://flickr.com/photos/jackiesdesigns/
Passover ('Pesach') is a very important Jewish Holiday which falls on April 19 this year. It usually is near Easter time. Orthodox Christian Easter (Pascha)falls on April 23. You notice how similiar the words are for Easter and Passover are - 'Pesach' and Pascha
I am going to try and explain as I know this 'Pesach', but I first must tell you I am not Jewish and welcome our Jewish members to help and correct what I write. And I pray I have not said anything to offend anyone! I have many friends who are Jewish so I have learned a little bit from them and from reading. I will not go into details as I am sure any explanations I would give would fall short.
Also I might mention that Sephardic Passover customs and traditions can vary from place to place. Sephardic Jews are descendants of the large Jewish community living in Spain and Portugal in the Middle Ages. Forcibly expelled from those countries in 1492, many settled in The Netherlands. Sephardic Jews never lost their identity and are found living all over the world today.
This appears to be a Passover (Seder night) meal, taken with a flash - the photographer is sitting on the right. The building is Viru 16, in the centre of Tallin
This is a studio picture by Bernard Lais of Reval (Tallin), Their name is Israelson which apparently is quite a common name in Sweden, but they probably came from Hamburg originally. The Swedish Israelsons are Lutherans so they may have had to convert as it was not permitted to be anything else until 1718. according to Henry Law.
for more of this old collection from "seadipper" Henry Law who is a facinating man
Many Sephardic customs and traditions involved assimilating Passover rituals with the culinary, musical, and linguistic traditions of the surrounding peoples in the areas where Sephardim lived.
Matzoh or "Bread of Affliction" is a nonleavened bread.
Origins of the Passover Feast
The first reference to Passover has been found in the Book of Exodus (Old Testament) and then in the New Testament of the Bible. According to Exodus 12, King James Version, about 3000 years ago, God promised the people of Israel to free them from the slavery in Egypt and unleash the tenth plague that was to 'Smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt.' To be sure that Israelites were not the ones to save his wrath, he instructed them to mark their door posts with lamb's blood, stating: "and when I see the blood, I will pass over you." The book was later translated to English by William Tyndale. Thus, the name 'Passover' came into vogue for this celebration. Since the original word in the Hebrew Torah for 'pass over' was 'Posach', the celebration is also known as 'Pesach'.
Without going deeply into Biblical background let me say that Passover is the most important holiday for Jewish people, and also some Christians celebrate Passover according to the New Testament or New Law, whereas Jewish people base their beliefs on the Torah (or Old Testament).
The most important Passover tradition is the Passover feast known as Seder. The removal of chametz or leavened food on the first night of the holiday is known as 'Bedikat chametz'. Only Matzoh and other special foods made from matzoh are allowed during this happy family holiday. This is the occasion for the Jewish families to go through their origin and history by reading the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt as told in the Book of Exodus, the Haggadah.
The Seder Plate
The Seder Plate has five foods that have special meaning to them:
Charoset - A mixture of chopped walnuts, wine, cinnamon and apples representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves.
Parsley (dipped in salt water) - Symbol of Spring and new life and tears of the Jewish slaves.
Roasted egg - Symbol of fertility and Spring.
Shank Bone - Symbol of the sacrificial lamb offered in the Holy temple at Jerusalem. The bone used can be from anything cooked such as the leg bone of a roasted turkey. Vegetarian Jews use beetroot instead of a bone.
Bitter herbs - Freshly grated horseradish symbolizes the bitterness and harshness of slavery.
The Seder table has the Seder plate as its centerpiece.
Depending on the length of your seder, everything needs to be almost ready anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before the meal is served. (This year, because Passover begins at sunset on a Saturday, just as Sabbath is ending, observant Jews will need to finish the bulk of the preparations before sunset on Friday.)
Even non-kosher cooks generally refrain from mixing meat and milk for Passover, and then there are the specific must-haves (chicken soup, gefilte fish) and must-nots (hametz, or breadstuffs) to either include or eschew.
Here is a site with far more information:
Another important Jewish holiday is Hanukkah which will be December 21-29 for 2008, which falls around Christian celebration of Christmas Dec 24/25 or Orthodox January 8.