Passover 2023: what the Jewish festival is and how Greater Manchester communities are celebrating
This week Greater Manchester’s Jewish communities are marking the festival of Passover - here is why the celebration takes place and what it involves.
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Jewish communities across Greater Manchester are celebrating Passover this week. This year, the eight-day event which marks the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt starts on the evening of Wednesday (5 April).
Certain foods are banned during the festival, which is preceded by a period of preparation which includes a formal search for forbidden foods in each home. The story of exodus from slavery in Egypt is told at the Seder – a ritual feast at the start of the annual holiday where foods symbolising the story are eaten.
Marc Levy, who is the chief executive of the Jewish Representative Council (JRC) for Greater Manchester and Region, said: “On Wednesday and Thursday evening, Jewish communities across Greater Manchester and around the world will be coming together for their Seder meal. This is a hugely significant event in the Jewish communal calendar.
“In keeping with traditions spanning generations, families will come together to retell the story of the Jewish people’s freedom from slavery in Egypt. Everyone connected with the JRC would like to wish the Jewish community a Chag Pesach Sameach.”
When is Passover 2023?
Passover begins on the evening of Wednesday, April 5 – when the first Seder night takes place – and lasts eight days, ending on the evening of Thursday, April 13. The festival starts on the 15th day of Nissan in the Jewish calendar which means that the date in the Gregorian calendar changes every year.
The first nights centre around a meal called the Seder – Hebrew for ‘order’. Jewish people generally celebrate the festival with a Seder meal on the first night, but many Jews living outside of Israel hold a second Seder night too.
What happens at Passover?
Jewish people retell the story of the exodus from slavery in Egypt on Passover by reading from a book called a haggadah during the Seder night celebrations. The Seder ceremony features foods which each have symbolic meanings.
This includes matza – unleavened bread – which is typically eaten throughout the eight days because eating certain grains during the festival is forbidden. Chametz – most foods made with wheat, barley, spelt, oats or rye – cannot be consumed during Passover and according to some customs, Jews must also refrain from eating kitniyot which includes beans, peas, lentils, rice and corn.
How do you wish someone a Happy Passover?
To wish someone a Happy Passover, you can simply say “Chag Sameach” which means “happy holiday” or “happy festival” in Hebrew or you could say “Chag Pesach Sameach” to specifically wish someone a Happy Passover. Some people also say “chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach” which means “a kosher and happy Passover” in reference to the festival’s dietary restrictions.
The “ch” in these words are pronounced as a strong H sound like in “Loch”.