Passover (Pesach), or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, celebrates the liberation of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The biblical story recounts God’s deliverance of the Israelites after ten plagues were inflicted upon the Egyptians. Only after the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn children of Egypt, did Pharaoh release his slaves. According to the story, Israelites marked their doorposts with the blood of a lamb and God guarded those homes so that death would pass over them. Then they fled in such a hurry that there was not enough time for dough to rise. Hence, Jews ceremonially remove all leaven (chametz), including crumbs which must be swept from the house, and do not eat leavened bread during Passover. Matzah (unleavened flatbread) is one of the symbols of the holiday, also reminding Jews of what it was like to be slaves who ate the bread of poverty.

Passover is a time of remembering. The history of suffering and deliverance it recalls also inspires the hope that slaves can be liberated, that justice is possible, and that freedom is to be cherished. As such, Passover motivates action that seeks deliverance for all who are enslaved and afflicted by “pharaohs” of every age. Passover is a reminder that the future can be better.