Reminiscence room: Looking back on Jewish life in the UK

Two white Passover plates with blue artwork and embellishment.

Passover plates

The two white Passover plates in this photograph feature blue artwork and embellishments. The one on the left has a traditional Passover Seder plate image in the middle and the order of the Passover meal around the edge. The other on the right has the Hebrew word for matzo in the centre with images of the Passover story around the edge along with the Hebrew words, "Ma Nishtana"—'the four questions’."

"Passover is our tradition, and I like to keep up with that. Our ancestors couldn't eat bread, and it's nice for us to celebrate that every year by going through their struggles."

Marsha Cohen

The Passover Seder, meaning "order, arrangement", is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evening of the 15th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar throughout the world. This corresponds to late March or April in the Gregorian calendar. Passover lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days outside of Israel, with Jews outside of Israel holding two Seders (on the evening of the 15th and 16th of Nisan) and Jews in Israel holding one Seder (on the 15th of Nisan).

The Seder is often performed by a community or by multiple generations of a family, involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This story is in The Book of Exodus (Shemot) in the Hebrew Bible. The Seder itself is based on the Biblical verse commanding Jews to retell the story of The Exodus from Egypt: "You shall tell your child on that day, saying, 'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt'." (Exodus 13:8)

Traditionally, families and friends gather in the evening to read the text of the Haggadah, an ancient work derived from the Mishnah. The Haggadah contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings and rituals, commentaries from the Talmud, and special Passover songs. Seder customs include telling the story, discussing the story, drinking four cups of wine, eating matzo, partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder plate, and reclining in celebration of freedom. The Seder is performed in much the same way by Jews all over the world.

Sparks:

* Do you have a favourite part of the Seder?

* Matzo, love it or hate it?

* What elements of your freedom would you miss the most if you were enslaved?