Passover

 

Passover is the Jewish feast of freedom. It is celebrated at about the same time as Easter and lasts for 7 or 8 days. During Passover Jews around the world remember their freedom from slavery in Egypt.

In ancient times Egypt was one of the most powerful countries in the worlds. It conquered smaller nations and made their people slaves. The early Jews, or Hebrews as they were called, also became Egyptian slaves. The Pharaoh forced them to work hard. They had to put up buildings and pull heavy stones across the desert. He gave them little food to eat and no freedom.

The Bible tells us that God chose Moses to lead the Jews out of Egypt and to the land of Canaan, which is today's Israel. Moses went to the Pharaoh and asked him to let the Jews free. When the king said no God sent down ten plagues, or punishments to force the king to change his mind.

The word Passover comes from the tenth plague. The firstborn son of every Egyptian family was killed. God told the Jews to mark their door posts with the blood of a roasted lamb to show him that they were his children. In this way the firstborn sons of the Jews survived.

When the Pharaoh’s son died he told Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. When they reached the Red Sea they heard Egyptian armies coming after them. Moses raised his staff over the water and the sea split open so that the Hebrews could go across. Then the sea closed up again and the Pharaoh’s army drowned. Moses and his people wandered around for forty years before they found the Promised Land. Moses, however, died and never reached it.

Today, many Jews gather in synagogues every year to retell the Passover story. The most important food of this holiday is “matzo”, which is bread made of flour and water. It is flat because Moses and his followers didn’t have time to let the bread rise. Many families sing songs and say prayers during the holidays.

 

Passover food - matzo

Passover food - matzo - Yoninah

 

 

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Words

  • ancient = old
  • celebrate = to do something special on an important day
  • change your mind = to have a different opinion from the one you had first
  • choose, chose = to decide who you want to have
  • conquer = to take control of a country by fighting
  • drown = to die when you are under water for a long time
  • feast = a time when people do a lot of things they like
  • flour =a powder that you make by crushing wheat or other another crop; you use it to make bread or cake
  • force = to make someone do something
  • freedom =liberty
  • Jew =a person whose religion is Judaism
  • mark = to make a sign
  • Pharaoh = king of ancient Egypt
  • plague =disease
  • prayer = words that you say to God
  • Promised Land = the land that was promised to the Hebrews by God
  • punishment =penalty, something you have to do if you have done something wrong
  • put up = build, construct
  • raise = to lift something or move higher
  • rise = go up
  • reach = get to
  • roast = cook or grill on a fire
  • slave = a person who is not free and belongs to someone else
  • split = to break apart
  • staff = a long walking stick
  • survive =to live on after a dangerous situation
  • synagogue = a building where Jewish people meet to pray