Passover, also called Pesah, is a Jewish festival that celebrates the flight of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, probably in the 1200’s B.C. The story of Passover is told in the Bible in Chapter 12 of the Book of Exodus. Passover begins in March or April, on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. Most Jews celebrate Passover for eight days, but Jews in Israel, and Reform Jews in other countries, celebrate it for seven days.
Jews celebrate Passover in their homes at a ceremonial feast called the Seder. At the Seder, the story of the flight of the Israelites is read from a book called the Haggadah. Foods symbolizing the flight from Egypt are placed on the table. The most important symbol is unleavened (unraised) bread called matzo (also spelled matzah). According to the Bible, when the Israelites fled, they did not have time to let their bread rise. They made flat, unleavened bread instead. Therefore, Jews eat matzahs instead of leavened bread during Passover.
The word Passover comes from the Biblical story of the 10th plague, which God brought on Egypt for keeping the Israelites in bondage. The story says God killed the first-born child in every Egyptian home but passed over the homes of the Israelites. The word Passover also refers to the passing over of the Israelites from slavery to freedom.