Passover 2017: What To Know About This Jewish Holiday Before It Begins
Passover 2017: What To Know About This Jewish Holiday Before It Begins

Passover in 2017 will start on Tuesday, the 11th of April and will continue for 7 days until Monday, the 17th of April.

In the USA, Passover ends one day later, so in 2017, Passover will end on Tuesday, the 18th of April.

Note that in the Jewish calander, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Jews will celebrate Passover on the sunset of Monday, the 10th of April.

So how is Passover’s date determined each year?

Because the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycles, its holidays sometimes vary when transferred to the Gregorian calendar. But Passover does occur on the same day every year on the Jewish calendar. JewFAQ.org notes that it starts “the night of a full moon in April.” But keeping the different calendars aligned requires some forethought. “The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, with 12 lunar months of 29 or 30 days, which is about ten days short of a solar year, so seven years in every nineteen have an extra month. This ensures that the seasonal feasts keep to their correct seasons,” according to Wildolive. It’s like a leap day on a much bigger scale.

If converting between the two calendars seems confusing, there are plenty of Hebrew date converters online. There are even apps for the Jewish calendar and Passover checklists. Basically, tech has made following this traditional holiday easier than ever.

According to the book of Exodus, the enslaved Israelites used the blood of lambs to mark their doors so the Angel of Death would “pass over” their homes and instead slay the firstborn sons of Egyptians — the 10th and most horrific of the plagues that finally persuaded the pharaoh to accede to Moses’ demand: “Let my people go.”

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.

Also as part of the ritual, a child traditionally asks the four questions of the Seder.

The introductory question of “Why is this night different from all other nights?” is followed by “Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either bread or matzo, but on this night we eat matzo?” “Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on this night we eat bitter herbs?” “Why is it on all other nights we do not dip even once, but on this night we dip twice?” and “Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?”

The purpose of the questions is to spark discussion and learning, as teaching the story of the Exodus to children is one of the most important elements of the Seder.

The meal is accompanied by reading from the Haggadah, or “narration” book, which tells the story of the Israelites’ deliverance from bondage.

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 to allow the fleeing Israelites to make their getaway.

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

The difference is that people in ancient times who lived far from Jerusalem could not know when a new month under the Hebrew lunar calendar had been officially declared and, in turn, could not be sure of the exact date.

Passover is customarily a home-based ritual observance, which does not require a rabbi. Unlike most Jewish holy days, there is no synagogue service for Passover.

However, community Seders will be conducted at multiple locations in Los Angeles County by Chabad, the Hasidic movement known for its outreach efforts, and the JEM Community Center in Beverly Hills.

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