Passover (April 10th) by Gillian
A story of slavery to freedom
Passover is written in the Book of Exodus.
On Passover, we celebrate how G‑d took the Jewish People (Israelites) out of Egypt, where they had been enslaved by Pharaoh for 210 years.
With Moses as His representative, G‑d brought 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, until they agreed to free the Jews from slavery by sending them away.
The Egyptians became terrified of the plagues and demanded Pharaoh banish the Israelites there and then.
Pharaoh then summoned Moses and ordered him to get his people (the Jews) out of Egypt immediately.
The Israelites had no time to prepare. They took with them their unleavened dough as they hadn’t time to add the yeast. They lived on this for the first few days of their Exodus into freedom.
Passover today - Celebrations
Passover is one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish calendar.
Every year, Jews all over the world celebrate the Feast of Passover to commemorate the liberation of the Israelites.
The Seder Meal
The highlight of Passover takes place on the first 2 nights, when friends and family gather round for the ritual Seder Meal. Seder means ‘order’ as the ceremonies are arranged in a specific order.
Each item on the Seder plate and table has a symbolic meaning, for example ‘salt water’ represents the slave’s tears. Lettuce represents ‘new life’ and Matzo (unleavened bread) represents the dough without yeast which the slaves took with them.
I make a Passover meal every year. It’s always a joyous occasion; with often a dozen people or more, gathered round the table, reading out loud from the Haggadah, the story of Passover, singing traditional songs and eating the feast of traditional foods.
This year the essence of Passover and what it represents seems incredibly relevant to our world today.
The plague of COVID-19 has come upon us. Invisible and deadly. We, like the Israelites are not free. We are in lockdown; we stay mainly in our homes, separated from many people whom we love. Social isolation; social distancing; schools, shops, offices, playgrounds; museums, galleries, restaurants, cafes all closed; outside has become a scary, deserted place; fear and death surround us.
We have no idea when we will be free again and this can make us feel overwhelmed, frightened and depressed.
However, I choose to find solace during this special time of Passover. Let’s not forget that Passover symbolises freedom and being the Festival of Spring, it represents hope, new life and the importance of starting afresh.
Freedom did eventually come for the Jews, as it did me personally, many years ago. My experience of being enslaved by psychosis and ‘detained’ in a psychiatric hospital, is another striking reminder that everything passes in time, even if we do not believe that it will…..