LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Passover begins at sundown Monday night in a celebration of what the Old Testament describes as God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.
Observant Jews in Southern California and around the world will gather for a feast called a Seder, featuring six symbolic foods.
The feast includes matzo, a cracker-like unleavened bread symbolizing the Exodus from the land of pharaoh, when there was not enough time to let the bread rise. Jews are not supposed to eat anything leavened during the holiday period.
During the Seder, people drink four cups of wine or grape juice. As part of the ritual, a child traditionally asks “the four questions,” the first being, “Why is this night different from all over nights?”
The meal is accompanied by reading from the Haggadah, or “narration” book, which tells the story of the Israelites’ deliverance from bondage.
Passover is observed for seven days in Israel and eight days by many outside Israel because of different interpretations of Jewish law. Outside Israel, Seders are held on the first two days of Passover.
Passover commemorates the final plague that finally persuaded the pharaoh to allow the enslaved Israelites to leave Egypt. According to the book of Exodus, the Israelites used the blood of lambs to mark their doors so the Angel of Death would “pass over” their homes and instead slay the firstborn sons of Egyptians.
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