This holiday, which is observed for eight days, celebrates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Moses, an Israelite born into slavery, raised in the Pharaoh's household, and later banished as a young man for defending his people, returned to Egypt and confronted the Pharaoh in the name of God, demanding freedom for his people. The Pharaoh capitulated only after God sent ten plagues, the last of which killed the first son of every Egyptian family, including that of the Pharaoh. The Israelites marked their doors to identify their homes for the angel of death, who passed over and spared them. Moses then led the Israelites through the desert for 40 years until they reached Palestine. The celebration of Passover, a spring festival commemorating freedom and new life, begins the previous evening with a Seder, a meal during which the story of Passover is read from the Haggadah. The menu includes a number of traditional foods such as matzoh, or unleavened bread, which recalls the unleavened bread eaten by the Israelites in the desert.
Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: For the eight days of Passover, Jews observing the holiday abstain from eating any foods containing leavening components, such as bread, cake, and donuts. As a substitute, Jews eat unleavened bread called matzoh. In addition, foods made special for Passover can be found at any Kosher bakery or delicatessen. Before arranging any event involving food, check to see if invitees are following a special Passover diet, particularly whether they are refraining from eating any bread or other baked goods. "Have a happy holiday" is an appropriate greeting.
Jews refrain from work on the first two and last two days of Pesach.