Facts about Passover

This year (1993) Passover will be celebrated April 5-13. Don’t forget to wish your Jewish friends a Happy Passover!

If you are fortunate enough to be invited to a Passover celebration, you may want to brush up on some of the basic terminology. Here is a short glossary to help you feel more knowledgeable.

Pesach (PEH-sach)—the Hebrew word for Passover. The word is used for the holiday itself and also for the Paschal sacrifice.

Matzoh (MAH-tzoh)—literally without leaven,” or unleavened bread. Matzoh has a cracker-like texture and is generally the size of a dinner plate.

Afikomen (Ahfee-KO-men)—literally “that which comes last.” The hidden matzoh that is taken out and eaten at the end of the seder meal.

Haggadah (Ha-GAH-dah)—literally “the telling.” The Haggadah is the common service book used at the Passover celebration. It contains the Exodus account from Scripture, rabbinic comments and traditions, holiday songs and prayers.

Seder (SEY-der)—literally “set order.” The seder is the Passover celebration that is held in Jewish homes. Besides a full holiday meal, it includes certain readings, prayers and ritual foods, all of which are prescribed by the haggadah.

Kiddush (KID-ish)—the prayer of sanctification pronounced over the ritual cup of wine.

Kittel (KI-tle) —a long white robe that is usually worn by the leader of the Passover seder in an Orthodox Jewish home.

The Seder Plate—a large platter containing the following six ritual foods for the seder.

Z’roah (Zeh-RO-ah)—the roasted shankbone of a lamb or a chicken neck symbolic of the Paschal sacrifice.

Beitzah (BEY-tzah)—a whole hard-boiled egg symbolic of the haggigah (daily temple sacrifice).

Karpas (KAR-pas)—greens, usually parsley or lettuce symbolic of life.

Charoset (Ha-RO-set)—a mixture of chopped apples, nuts and cinnamon symbolic of the mortar used by the Israelite slaves to build Pharaoh’s treasure cities.

Chazeret (Ha-ZER-et)—a whole onion or a piece of horseradish root symbolic of the bitterness of Egyptian servitude.

Maror (Mah-ROR)—a mound of freshly ground horseradish also symbolic of the bitterness of life for the Israelite slaves.


For more detailed information about the Passover, its background, rituals and symbolism, see Christ in the Passover, Ceil and Moishe Rosen, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1978.