Passover in the Holy Land: A Celebration of Freedom Under Shadow of Ongoing War

By Nicole Jansezian

Israelis are preparing to observe Passover beginning at dusk on Monday night, but this year the holiday will take place under the shadow of war and with 133 hostages remaining in Gaza.

The weeklong celebration is a biblical holiday in which the Lord commanded His people to recall the events that led them out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. During that week, the Israelites were to abstain from bread or leavened products as a symbol of a hasty departure from Egypt. 

Passover occurs in Nisan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, and is known as the spring holiday and a time of new beginnings. Families gather on the first night of Passover for the “seder” meal which includes specific food, songs, and scriptures from the Book of Exodus.

Throughout Israel in the weeks leading up to the holiday, observant Jews will clear their homes of hametz, or leaven, and clean thoroughly in order to remove any trace of it in their midst.

Supermarkets seal off the shelves of pasta, rice, and legumes and sell matzah instead of bread for the week. Kosher restaurants either close for the week or reopen after a major cleaning with “kosher for Passover” products.

This year, however, the holiday occurs under a cloud of mourning, the ongoing war with Hamas, and continued threats from Hezbollah and Iran. Tens of thousands of Israelis are still evacuated from their homes and living in hotels or temporary housing. 

The night of the seder, April 22, coincides with the 200th day since October 7. And with 133 hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza, many Israeli families will not be in a celebratory mode for Passover this year.

But thanks to caring friends like you, CBN Israel is marking the holiday by supporting people in need throughout the Holy Land—including a special dinner and financial assistance for single mothers and widows.

CBN Israel partners are also making it possible to distribute hundreds of holiday food and care packages to families and communities that have been directly impacted by the war.

Nicole Jansezian is the media coordinator for CBN Israel. A long-time journalist, Nicole was previously the news editor of All Israel News and All Arab News and a journalist at The Associated Press. On her YouTube channel, Nicole gives a platform to the minority communities in Jerusalem and highlights stories of fascinating people in this intense city. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Tony, and their three children.

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