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Passover ("Pesa'h" or "Pesach") in Hebrew) is the Jewish holiday celebrating the liberation of the Jews from bondage in Egypt and their eventual entry into the land of Israel. According to tradition, this event took place about 1300 BCE. No archeological evidence confirms Jewish enlavement in Egypt. The holiday was apparently derived from a spring solstice holiday. During Passover week, Jews eat unleavened Matzoh instead of bread (see also: Kosher).  The holiday of Passover is inaugurated by a special meal, the Passover Seder, accompanied by ritual recitations from the Passover Hagadah by the entire family. The last supper of Jesus Christ was a Passover meal. The Seder service includes the traditional vow, "Next Year in Jerusalem" and prayers to rebuild the temple and return the Jewish people to their homeland. This family holiday has served as a vehicle for inculcating social and national values.

The tradition of Passover and the story of liberation from bondage no doubt inspired the Jewish passion for social justice in modern times, and the story of Passover was also told and retold in many American Negro spirituals.

The vow of "Next Year in Jerusalem" and the entire Seder service, with its many references to "the land of our fathers" and to places in ancient Israel, helped to keep alive the national spirit in exile.

For an extensive description of the Passover tradition, see Passover

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Pessach, Pessah,

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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