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Pesah, Passover, occurring on the 15th of Nisan, was known in biblical times as Hag Ha-Aviv and Hag Ha-Matzot, the Festival of Spring and the Festival of Matzah. This festival of the early spring wheat harvest soon came to be celebrated as the historical occasion of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The rabbis called it the Season of Our Freedom, Z’man Heiruteinu. During this seven-day festival, we rid our homes of all hametz, leavened foods and products containing the grains barley, rye, oat, wheat, and spelt. We eat instead matzah, special holiday unleavened bread, because the Torah tells that the Israelites had to leave Egypt in haste and did not have time to let the bread they were making rise.

In addition to synagogue services on the first and last days of the festival, the primary celebration takes place in the home. Families gather for a Seder, a ritual meal at which we tell the story of the Exodus from the Haggadah, the ancient text retelling the story and prompting discussions about the meaning of freedom.

Selling Your Chametz If you would like to sell your remaining chametz for the duration of the holiday as a way of ridding your home of chametz, you may sell it through Dorshei Emet. To download our agreement to have Rabbi Boris Dolin sell your hametz, see below.

Community Seders If you have place at your Seder table or are in need of a place to celebrate with others, please contact the office (514) 486-9400. In addition, MADA every year hosts community Seders at various locations throughout the city. For more information, please call (514) 342-4969 or email

Passover Services at Dorshei Emet We hold services for the first and last day of the holiday, which includes Torah reading as well as the festive Hallel section of prayers and songs. On the last day of Passover, people who have lost a loved one may recite Yizkor during the Yizkor section of the service. We often have a guest speaker for the last day of Passover. 


Sell Your Chametz 5781

Sell your chametz by downloading this document and emailing it to

Spice Up your Seder     

Need to spice up your seder?

Try these seder rituals from around the world!


  • Jews living in Afghanistan developed the tradition of using scallions or leeks to stand for the Egyptian slavedrivers' whips, using them to lightly "whip" each others' backs.
  • In the British territory of Gibraltar, a tiny peninsula off Spain where Jews have lived for about 650 years, there's a special recipe for charoset: the dust of real bricks, ground up and mixed in.
  • Hasidic Jews from the Polish town of Góra Kalwaria, known as Gerer Hasids, re-enact the crossing of the Red Sea on the seventh day of Passover by pouring water on the floor, lifting up their coats, and naming the towns that they would cross in their region of Poland. They raise a glass at each "town" and then thank God for helping them reach their destination.
  • The Jews of Ethiopia strongly identify with the story of Exodus -- the first of the famous airlifts that delivered them to Israel was actually called Operation Moses. In some Ethiopian families, the matriarch would destroy all of her earthenware dishes and make a new set to mark a true break with the past. Ethiopian Jews had no Haggadahs, and read about Exodus directly from the Bible. Matzahs were homemade, often from chickpea flour, and on the morning of the seder, a lamb would be slaughtered. They also refrained from eating fermented dairy like yogurt, butter, or cheese.
  • In a custom that began in Spain in the fourteenth century, the seder leader walks around the table three times with the seder plate in hand, tapping it on the head of each guest. Many Moroccan, Turkish, and Tunisian Jews adopted this tradition, which is said to bless those whose heads are tapped. This is sometimes connected to the Talmudic custom of "uprooting" the seder plate so that guests might ask questions about the Jews in Egypt.
  • In many Sephardic traditions, an elder member of the family enacts a skit in costume, posing as an ancient Jew who experienced the exodus from Egypt and describing the miracles he saw.
  • In the countries of the Caucasus region, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen, and others, the seder (usually the head of household), would put the afikoman matzah in a bag, throw it over his shoulder, and use a cane to support himself. Sometimes a child participated, and there was a call and response with the table: "Where are you coming from?" "Egypt," was the reply, followed by the story of the Israelites following Moses out of slavery. "And where are you going?" someone at the table would ask. "Jerusalem!"
  • In the Syrian community, the custom of breaking the middle matzah on the seder table into pieces (known as yachatz) can sometimes take on Kabbalistic meaning. Matzah broken into the shape of the Hebrew letters "daled" and "vav" correspond to numbers, which in turn add up to 10, representing the 10 holy emanations of God. Jews from North Africa, including from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Libya, break the matzah into the shape of the Hebrew letter "hey," which corresponds to the number five.
  • Jews have lived in Cochin, in the Indian state of Kerala, for 2,000 years. In the tiny community that remains, Passover preparation begins immediately after Hanukkah, about 100 days beforehand. After Purim, Cochin's Jews scrub their house of chametz (bread and any fermented grain) and repaint them, keeping special Passover dishes in a separate room. Wells are drained and cleaned for fear of chametz, and every grain of rice is inspected for defects that might let impure chametz in. Jews usually maintain warm relations with the larger community, but during Passover and the preceding months, they keep entirely to themselves.
  • Many different customs surround the welcoming of the prophet Elijah, who is said to visit every seder. While Ashkenazi Jews (whose families came from Germany and later Eastern Europe) commonly leave a goblet of wine for the prophet, in Casablanca, Morocco, Jews would set up an elaborate chair with cushions and ornaments and leave it empty for Elijah's arrival. And in Marrakesh, dishes are prepared using the wine from Elijah's cup. Ashkenazi Jews often open the door to allow Elijah in, a tradition that wasn't historically a part of the Sephardic practice.
  • Both Hasidic Jews and Moroccan Jews have the custom of wearing white to seder, possibly to signify joyfulness. Some Jews wear white on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, or on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, although this varies.
  • Three passages in Exodus say that the Israelites received gold and silver from the Egyptians (for example, 12:35: "The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing"). Because of this, Hungarian Jews had a tradition of putting all of their gold and silver jewelry on the seder table.
  • Among Moroccan Jews, Mimouna is celebrated the day after Passover with a generous feast of baked goods. Some say it marks Maimonides' birthday, while others link it to the Arabic word for luck. A table is heaped with items symbolizing luck or fertility, many repeating the number 5, such as dough with five fingerprint marks or five silver coins. Fig leaves, live fish, stalks of wheat, and honey might also be included. In some parts of the Moroccan Jewish community, Jews entered the ocean and tossed pebbles behind their backs to ward off evil spirits.

The Seder Plate

The Seder Plate


The Classics


  • The roasted egg symbolizes rebirth and springtime. Just as we grew into a free nation through our exodus from Egypt, the egg symbolizes growth and new life. (Vegans can use an avocado pit or another similarly shaped fruit or vegetable)
  • Parsley represents the spring season of the Passover holiday. (In Eastern Europe a potato was often used, since these were more easily found than green parsley in the spring.)
  • Bitter herbs (usually horseradish) are a symbol of the bitterness of slavery.
  • Lettuce, romaine or another bitter green takes on the symbolism of both the bitter herbs and the parsley, of slavery and renewal.
  • Charoset is a mixture of chopped apples and nuts, much like the mortar of bricks, which we laid as slaves in Egypt. It is also sweet, like freedom.
  • The shank bone is a symbol of the Passover lamb; our forefathers used its blood to mark their doorposts, and the angel of death passed over their homes in the Passover story. (For vegetarians and vegans: Rabbi Huna, a Talmudic sage, stated that a beet can be used for the same purpose. (Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 114b)


Some New Additions


  • An orange, which has come to symbolize GLBT and gender equality.
  • Fair-trade chocolate, which can represent economic freedom, because most of the world’s chocolate production relies on underpaid or slave laborers, often children.
  • An artichoke heart, symbolizing the inclusion of interfaith families (the Jewish people have been thorny about the question of interfaith marriage!)
  • A tomato, representing solidarity with those suffering from slavery, underpaid labor and oppressive working conditions in American agriculture.
  • A check for a donation to a food-relief organization like Mazon can symbolize the sacrifice of personal wealth and the defense of the vulnerable, just like the Passover lamb symbolized in the Passover story.
  • Potato peelings - to remember the sacrifices of the Holocaust
  • A fourth piece of matzah - which has variously been used to represent Darfur, Soviet Jewry, and others
  • An olive - to symbolize the hope for peace in the Middle East
  • An empty space—what are you sacrificing?
Fri, July 12 2024 6 Tammuz 5784