The meaning of Passover’s week-long observance, why it still matters

‘This year the liberation part is so pronounced,’ local rabbi says of Passover’s modern impact

SAN ANTONIO – This past Friday marked Passover, an important Jewish holiday.

However, many people don’t know the holiday lasts a full week, and what that week means.

“It celebrates the exodus from Egypt that took place many thousands of years ago, which was essentially the beginning of the Jewish people. Forty-nine short days later, the Jewish people received the Torah, the revelation on Mount Sinai, and two religions have spawned from that event as well,” said Senior Rabbi Chaim Block at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in San Antonio.

Passover starts with the Seder, a ceremony and dinner filled with symbols of the escape from slavery in Egypt.

“This year the liberation part is so pronounced because we’re emerging out of COVID. We had a Seder here at Chabad, the first Seder in three years,” Block said.

Passover this year also carries a solemn weight for Jews, with the acknowledgement and all-too-relatable view of what’s happening in Ukraine.

“All of a sudden, established people are refugees in a strange land, so there’s a lot of parallels,” Block said. “As we sit around our Seders, we pray for them.”

Block said what amazes him about Passover is the ability to make the story relevant today.

“We’re living in San Antonio 2022. Where’s the connection? It does not only refer to physical enslavement. We all have emotional enslavements, spiritual limitations. On Passover, it’s an opportunity to reach a little deeper, push the envelope and believe in ourselves,” Block said.

Though the Seder was on Friday, many people don’t know that Passover lasts for a full week. The reason has to do with flat, unleavened bread called matzo. The Jews fleeing Egypt in a hurry ate the cracker-like food, as it did not have time to rise. In the Torah, God instructs the Jewish people to eat matzo for a full week in place of leavened bread.

“It’s the book of Exodus. God commands the Jewish people to observe this holiday in commemoration of the exodus from Egypt. And God tells us in the Bible that it is a 7-day holiday,” Block said.

The whole focus of the reflective week is to acknowledge the past, and welcome better times to come.

“So we are hopeful that there will be peace, tranquility and harmony for people of all faiths coming together,” Block said. “I really feel this is not just about the Jewish people, that this is a universal hope and sense that we need to do better for ourselves.”

Also on

‘We pray for you’: Ukrainian Jews mark Passover, if they can

For Jews fleeing Ukraine, Passover takes on new meaning

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Recommended Videos