Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is one of the most important festivals in the Jewish year.

At this time Jewish people remember how the children of Israel left slavery behind them when they were led out of Egypt by Moses over 3000 years ago.


The story of the Passover

Statue of Pharaoh Rameses II at the temple in Karnak

Moses went to see Pharaoh many times. Each time Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites. Moses warned Pharaoh that God would send terrible plagues on Egypt if Pharaoh did not let them go. The ten plagues were: blood, frogs, gnats, flies, blight of the livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the death of the first born

The final plague was the death of the first born. God told Moses that the Israelites should mark their doorposts with lamb's blood so that God could 'pass over' their houses and spare them from this plague. This is why the festival is called Passover.

Eventually Pharaoh gave in and told Moses and the Israelites to go at once. They left in such a rush that their bread did not have time to rise. This is why, during Passover, Jewish people eat unleavened bread called Matzah. It looks a bit like crisp bread.