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Your Guide to Pesach

‘We are here to make a difference, to mend the fractures of the world, a day at a time, an act at a time’ - Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

I love Pesach! In addition to the time spent with loved ones, the fun of the seder and the delicious Pesach recipes, I am inspired by the lessons and messages with which this festival enriches our lives. Shortly after the beginning of the seder, we extend an invitation: 'Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are needy, come and celebrate Pesach.' Whilst this offer may seem out of place in the seder, it has everything to do with the festival of Pesach. Pesach is the time when we recall the struggles of our ancestors so that we will have sensitivity to the struggles of others today. So how fitting that the seder begins with a mindset of sharing what we have with others! On Pesach (as on Sukkot and Shavuot), we greet each other with the phrase 'Chag Sameach' meaning 'a joyous festival'. Indeed, on Yom Tov, it is a mitzvah to be happy and rejoice! But the Rambam, one of the greatest halachic authorities of all time, is at pains to explain what this simcha involves. If a person has a great time eating and drinking with the family but doesn‟t share his joy with others , that's not the true simcha of Yom Tov (Rambam calls it 'simcha of the belly'!). The real simcha (and the real joy of life in general) is to share what we have with others. In reality, we all experience times which are difficult but when we are there for each other, the struggle becomes a little more bearable. Equally, when we share our happy times and celebrations with others, the joy becomes so much greater. This happens nowhere more than in communities. That's why we're so happy to be joining this special community, inspired by the lesson of Pesach which inspires us with a vision of what our community can be. Let us implement this teaching in our lives and may it enrich our community and the lives of its members. Rabbi Knopf

  • You don’t need to remove chametz from inaccessible places such as under the fridge or behind the radiator.

  • There is a custom that people at the seder don’t pour their own cup of wine because being served is a sign of freedom and nobility.

  • Sephardic Jews from Iran and Afghanistan have a custom to whip each other with big scallions during the Dayenu song.

  • During Pesach, to commemorate their past and celebrate renewal, some Ethiopian Jews break all their dishes and cookware and make new ones.

  • The world’s largest seder takes place each year in Nepal. The Chabad ‘Seder on Top of the World’ in Kathmandu attracts 2,000 locals and travellers.

The Yom Tov candles are lit on the 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th nights of Pesach.

  • Baruch ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ha-olam asher kidishanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehadlik ner shel Yom Tov

  • Blessed are You Hashem, King of the Universe, Who commanded us to light the Yom Tov candle

On the first and second night of Yom Tov, we say a second bracha at candle lighting in which we express gratitude to God for having brought us to another Pesach:

  • Baruch ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ha-olam Shehechyanu ve-kimanu vehigiyanu lazman hazeh

  • Blessed are You Hashem, King of the Universe, Who has granted us life, sustained us and brought us to this time

There's so much to learn about Pesach! Here are some links to some fantastic articles on Pesach. You can choose the ones that interest you and print them out to read over Pesach. The Fundamentals For the five most important things to know about Pesach, click here. What's the meaning of the word 'Pesach'? Find out here. Freedom One of the key themes of Pesach is liberation. One Jew who experienced liberation in our generation was Natan Sharansky. Click here for his thoughts on Pesach and freedom. How Pesach Changes the World In this article, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues that the world we build tomorrow is born in the stories we tell our children today. What does Pesach mean to us in today's world? Click here for one writer's thoughts. How is Martin Luther King connected to the Exodus story? Find out here.

For those who prefer videos, check out this inspiring message from Chief Rabbi Goldstein, set to the music of Yaakov Shwekey.

For a lighter touch, check out the Pesach story set to Bohemian Rhapsody and find out what it would be like if Moses had Facebook.

For those of you who have kids, make sure you take advantage of the great range of Pesach videos for kids on Chabad.org.

By Rebecca Rubinstein, courtesy of Aish.com The Seder shouldn't be dull. Long before the days of multimedia, in the times of the Mishna, the Seder was an audio-visual reenactment of the going out of Egypt for the children. In some communities the father would dress up in white robes, holding a stick with an attached cloth and walk around the table chanting the passage, “We were slave to Pharaoh in Egypt…” The whole aim was - and continues to be - to stimulate the kids to ask questions and get involved in the Seder. The "props" - be it the Seder plate, or the cushions for leaning - are all there in order to arouse curiosity in our kids and get them asking questions. Here are a number of ideas to make the Seder fun and meaningful for everyone. All the games are suitable for all ages and are a lot of fun. A Note to Parents Get your kids to prepare activities ahead of time to increase their anticipation and involvement. (See below for specific ideas.) If you are inviting friends, let them know ahead of time that they have to prepare a fun activity or explanation on a specific section of the Haggadah. This way everyone is involved and is waiting for their turn to play the game, or act something out. Very important: Remember to have a bag of small prizes or treats as incentives for good questions and involvement.

The Why Game You will need a basket full of questions and answers about Passover on individual index cards or paper. Get your kids ahead of time to prepare as many questions and answers as they can from the Haggadah and write the questions and answers down. Here are some suggestions to get you started. Why do we eat Matzah on Passover?

  • To remind us of the dough that didn’t have time to rise as our forefathers were rushed out of Egypt.

Name the Four Sons

  • The wise, the wicked, the simple, and the one who doesn’t know how to ask.

How many cups of wine do we drink at the Seder?

  • Four.

What things connected with the Seder night are associated with the number four?

  • Four sons, four cups of wine, four questions.

Why four cups of wine?

  • To celebrate our freedom.

What is the second plague?

  • Frogs.

Why do we dip in the Charoset?

  • The Charoset represents the cement that the Jews used to cement the bricks together in their slavery. Today we dip as a sign of freedom.

What does the shank bone remind us of?

  • The Passover lamb which our forefathers sacrificed to God when they came out of Egypt.

Can you say all ten plagues in order?

  • Blood, frogs, vermin, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, plague of the firstborn.

Can you say the ten plagues backwards?

  • Plague of the firsborn, darkness, locusts, hail, boils, pestilence, wild beasts, vermin, frogs, blood.

Who am I? I am one of the key figures in the story of the going out of Egypt. I lost my whole army and half my country in my stubbornness. Who am I?

  • Pharoah.

Who am I? I am one of the plagues. I made the Egyptians itch like crazy all over. Who am I?

  • Lice.

Who am I? I am the last thing you eat before you bensch, say the blessing after the meal. There are often lots of fights over who hides me and who findsme. Who am I?

  • The Afikoman.

Who am I? My name does not appear once in the Haggadah, but I went several times to Pharoah with my brother to try and persuade him to let the Jewish people go. Who am I?

  • Moses.

Who do we fill a cup for on the Seder table and hope he comes and joins our Seder?

  • Elijah.

How to Play

  1. After the Mah Nishtana, you ask one of the kids to blindfold one of the guests or another family member. Then the blindfolded one has to pick a card out of a box or hat.

  2. Someone is chosen to read the question. If the blindfolded one answers correctly he or she gets a point/sweet/nut/small prize.

  3. The game can be played at different intervals during the evening.

Radio News

  • Ahead of time, get the older kids to prepare a news report about the Ten Plagues and the Crossing of the Red Sea.

  • As part of the "broadcast" they can interview some of the guests as Pharaoh, Moses, Aaron, etc.

  • These characters can be totally improvised or described on an index card that you hand to the guests.

  • For example: "You are Pharaoh. You have just been woken up in the middle of the night by your adviser who has told you that there is no water to drink in the whole of Egypt, only blood. The radio reporter wants to hear your statement about what you're going to do."

Who or What am I

  • In advance of the Seder night, write out on separate pieces of paper the names of characters or objects associated with the Seder night. For example: Pharoah, Elijah the Prophet, The Wise Son, Maror, Charoset, Matzah, Chametz, Frog, Wild Beast, etc.

  • During the Seder choose a volunteer. Tie a scarf around his forehead and stick a name on the scarf so that everyone can see it but him. Now he has to ask questions about himself, to which everyone answers Yes/No until he figures out who he is


  • 500gm cubed lamb

  • 3 onions

  • 3 Potatoes

  • Packet dried apricots

  • Packet of onion soup

  • Water

  • Ketchup

  • Salt


  • Peel and slice and then parboil the potatoes, adding a little salt.

  • Slice the onions thinly and lightly fry.

  • Place half the cubed lamb in a casserole and place half the onions on top.

  • Add half the apricots.

  • Mix the onion soup mix with a little water and ketchup.

  • Pour half the onion soup mixture over the meat.

  • Repeat with the other half of the ingredients.

  • Place the parboiled potatoes over the top of the casserole.

  • Add a little more water to just cover the potatoes.

  • Cook in a medium oven for at least 2 hours.

#Passover #pesach #seder

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