Passover - A Jewish celebration of freedom

#CelebratingDiversity

Hamburg / 26 March 2021

We are driven by our people - from more than 100 different countries, they make up the company we are every day. Diverse thinking, broad cultural diversity and a gender-balanced workforce make us more innovative and creative. To celebrate our diversity, we highlight special cultural occasions our colleagues observe around the world: Passover, one of the holiest and most observed holidays in Judaism, begins at sundown on Saturday, March 27.
Head of Sustainability Communication
In Judaism, Passover – or Pesach in Hebrew – commemorates the story of the Israelites' exodus from ancient Egypt, which is described in the books of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, among others, in the Hebrew Bible. It is the oldest continuously celebrated holiday in the Jewish calendar and lasts seven or eight days, depending on where you live. The dates of the week-long Passover festival change each year and usually takes place in early spring. This year, the festival begins at sundown on Saturday, March 27, and ends on Sunday evening, April 4.

The main ritual of Passover is a religious feast known as a "Seder," which means "order" in Hebrew, for which families and friends gather during the first two nights of the festival. It includes blessings over food and wine, explanations of Passover symbols, discussions about freedom and social justice, and lots of singing and eating. These rituals are performed in an order prescribed by a Passover-specific book known as the Haggadah, which means "to tell" in Hebrew.

During the Seder, a plate is placed in the center of the table containing Passover foods that are significant to the Exodus story, including the unleavened bread or matzah, bitter herbs, a lamb shank, and a mixture of fruits, nuts, and wine known as charoset, which represents the mortar the Jews used when they assembled bricks as slaves in Egypt.

Passover, one of the holiest and most observed holidays in Judaism

A very important role is played by the retelling of the Exodus story according to the Hebrew Bible during the Seder:
Jews first settled in ancient Egypt when Joseph, a son of the patriarch Jacob and founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, moved his family there to escape a severe famine in their homeland of Canaan. The Israelites lived in harmony for many years. But as their population grew, the Egyptians began to see them as a threat. Following Joseph’s and his brothers’ deaths, so the story goes, a particularly hostile pharaoh ordered their enslavement and systematic drowning of their firstborn sons in the Nile River.

One of these infants was rescued by Pharaoh's daughter, adopted into the Egyptian royal family, and given the name Moses. As an adult, Moses found out his true identity and learned how his fellow Hebrews were treated by the Egyptians. He killed one of the slave owners and fled to the Sinai Peninsula, where he lived as a shepherd for 40 years. According to the Hebrew Bible, one day he received orders from God to return to Egypt and free his relatives. He approached the ruling Pharaoh and told him that the Hebrew God had asked for a three-day leave for his people so that they could celebrate a festival. But Pharaoh repeatedly refused.

In response, the story goes, God unleashed ten plagues on the Egyptians, including hailstorms, three days of darkness and dyeing the Nile with red blood. Fearing further punishment, the Egyptians convinced their ruler to release the Israelites, and Moses quickly led them out of Egypt. But the pharaoh changed his mind and sent soldiers to retrieve his former slaves.

According to the Hebrew Bible, as the fleeing Jews stood at the edge of the Red Sea, a miracle occurred. The sea parted, allowing Moses and his followers to cross safely. Then the passage closed, and the fast-approaching Egyptian army drowned. The Jews then trekked through the Sinai Desert for 40 tumultuous years before finally reaching their ancestral homeland in Canaan - later known as the Land of Israel.
We spoke with Kristian (Rafael) Djaldeti, Engineering Risk and Governance Team Lead at Siemens Gamesa in Vejle, Denmark, to find out more about the significance of Passover and its traditions:
Kristian, what is the significance of Passover for people of Jewish faith and for you personally?

Passover signifies freedom for people of the Jewish faith and is one of the most important celebrations in Judaism. For me personally, it is also an important time because the whole family comes together to enjoy a good meal while sharing traditions - just spending quality time with each other.

Kristian (Rafael) Djaldeti, Engineering Risk and Governance Team Lead at Siemens Gamesa in Vejle, Denmark
You grew up in Israel. How did you celebrate Passover when you lived there, and how is it different from how you celebrate it today in Denmark?
As a child, I would get time off from school during Passover and we would usually gather with family and friends for a bonfire at the beginning of the celebration. It was also tradition to drink wine during the Seder and wineries would produce non-fermented versions of their wines, so that the children could get their own glass of “wine.” That made us kids feel included and special.

In Denmark, we would also gather with family and eat together with the local Israeli community. The pandemic has made this rather difficult and we will have to adjust this year’s Passover celebration accordingly to stay safe and healthy.
What were your favorite Passover traditions as a child?
At the Seder, there is usually a gift – which is called “afikomen” - hidden for the children to find and to keep them engaged during the dinner. This is, I believe, the part of Passover that children most look forward to. After the meal, the children are sent running to hunt for the hidden afikomen - sort of like hide-and-seek, but with religious significance. They bring it back to the table and everyone shares a bite and the child who finds it gets a small reward, like a piece of candy. I believe that the reason for this tradition is somehow an “Easter Bunny,” because the real roots are unknown. It is great fun though.

And last, but not least, you have to try Matzah with Nutella!

Chag Pesach Samech! Happy Passover!

Share

Further information about data protection can be found in our privacy policy.