LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Passover, the commemoration of what the Old Testament says was the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, begins at sundown Friday.

Jews across Southern California will gather for a ritual meal called a Seder, which means order.

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It features six symbolic foods, including matzo, a cracker-like unleavened bread symbolizing the Exodus from ancient Egypt when there was not enough time to let the bread rise.

While Passover rituals vary in different parts of the world, Jews are traditionally not permitted to eat or possess any foods made with what, barley, rye, spelt or oats.

Bitter herbs, often horseradish, represent the bitterness of slavery; parsley dipped in saltwater symbolizes the tears the Israelites shed in bondage; and an apple, nut, spice and wine mixture called charoset represents what the Torah, the Jewish holy scripture, describes as the mortar used by Jewish slaves to build Egyptian edifices.

During the Seder, people drink four cups of wine or grape juice, symbolizing the promises that God made to the Israelites, including deliverance from bondage.

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A child traditionally asks the four questions of the Passover Seder. The purpose of the questions is to spark discussion and learning.

Passover commemorates the time between the Exodus from Egypt on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nissan and the parting of the Red Sea seven days later.

The holiday is observed for seven days in Israel, with one Seder, and eight days outside Israel, with two Seders.

Passover is an entirely home-based ritual observance, which does not require a rabbi. Unlike most Jewish holy days, there is no synagogue service for Passover, although some congregations and other organizations conduct Seders.

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