Passover Tradition Tips

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What is the Afikoman?

Searching for the Afikoman

During the Passover Seder, the middle matzah is broken. One half is left on the table and the other half is hidden.

The larger hidden half is called the Afikoman. The word Afikoman literally means "dessert."

This tradition was done since many children would have a difficult time staying awake for the entire seder, it became a game of hide and go seek.

Usually the leader of the Passover Seder will sneak away and hide it sometime throughout the meal without anyone knowing. The Seder cannot end till the Afikoman is found and eaten.

The Afikoman is the last thing to be eaten at the Seder table.

   
What is Chametz?

Chametz and Cleaning

Before Passover begins, many families will go around placing 10 pieces of bread around the home to symbolize the cleaning of yeast products or Chametz.

Many Jews will go around the home with a brown bag, a candle, a feather, and a wooden spoon. This kit can be found at any Judaica shop.

The bread is placed on the spoon and put into the brown bag and any crumbs left over is picked up using the feather. Once all the bread is found and placed in the brown bag, the Chametz then is burned.

By the night before Pesach begins, all bread should be out of the home.

   
What traditions are done for the 10 plagues?

The 10 Plagues

During the part of the Passover Seder when the 10 plagues are recited, there are a few customs done.

A sign of remembering each plague is when the plague is recited, taking your pinky finger and dipping it into the wine and dripping it onto your plate. By taking some wine out, represents never forgetting the Exodus from Egypt.

For children, the Passover Seder can be a long time to sit. During the time the plagues are recited, some families will have objects symbolizing each plague.

For example, the plague of darkness can be shown by wearing sunglasses. For frogs and locusts, small plastic toys can be thrown around the Passover table.

Judaica shops sell bags of plagues. Besides being fun for the children, the adults can have a good laugh.

   
Why do Jews recline during the Seder?

Reclining

At the Passover Seder, why do Jews recline while drinking the four cups of wine or eating Matzah?

The whole celebration of Passover is to remember the freedom the Jewish people fought for. The Exodus from Egypt or the fleeing from slavery was an important part of Jewish history.

Anytime wine is drank or Matzah is eaten during the Seder, reclining symbolizes the luxury of freedom. In ancient times, the only people who could recline while eating or drinking were people who were free.

   
What are the four questions?

The Four Questions

The four questions are recited during the Passover Seder by the youngest member at the table. They can be sung in Hebrew or read in Hebrew or English. Many families will sing the questions together with the youngest member.

Another name for the four questions is "Mah Nish-tah-nah."

In English, the questions asked are:

Why is this night different from all other nights?

1) Why do we only eat Matzah on Passover?

2)Why do we eat Maror or Bitter Herbs on this night?

3) Why is the Karpas or Green Vegetable dipped twice on this night?

4)Why do we lean on a pillow at the Passover Seder?

   
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