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A QUICK GUIDE TO PASSOVER

The laws and traditions of Passover (Pesah) are many, and they are complicated. Many Jews, who are only moderately observant during the year, become extremely scrupulous about Pesah observance. This ratcheting up of observance reflects the fact that Pesah gets to the very root of Jewish identity. By the same token, however, it is important that people who are not used to being so strictly observant, or who are not prepared to be so strictly observant, have a part in Pesah observance as well. What follows is a simplified guide to Pesah, which may be useful to you.

The three main areas of Pesah observance are the seder, the avoiding of hametz, and the observance of the Festival.

1. Attend a seder on the first night of Pesah (or, better, on the first two nights of Pesah). If you end up making your own seder, remember to include the following elements;

a. Eat matzah and a bitter vegetable (the most common bitter vegetables used being horseradish root and Romaine lettuce), and drink from four cups of wine (or grape juice) “al haseder” (as they occur in the order of the recitation of the Haggadah).
b. Tell the story of the Exodus in some form. This is what is contained in the long section of the Haggadah called “Maggid”. You may either select parts of the Maggid section or use your own words.
c. Read the part of the Haggadah which starts with the words: “Rabban Gamliel said: Whoever does not say these three things on Pesah has not fulfilled his obligation: Pesah. matzah, and maror”, and then explain those three elements.

2. For the eight days of Pesah, avoid leavened food: food which is made from grain (wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt), or which contains ingredients made from grain, which has fermented, or which may have fermented. Only those foods made from grain, or containing grain-based ingredients, which are certified “Kosher for Passover” can be safely assumed to be free of leavening.

3. Attend synagogue services on at least one of the first two days and one of the last two days of Pesah.

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