Passover

The spring liberation holiday of Passover (Pesach) offers a rich illustration of the linguistic diversity of the Jewish people. Wherever Jews have celebrated this holiday, they have incorporated songs, recitation, and/or conversation in their specific communal language(s). In 2020, the Jewish Language Project is featuring Passover traditions by offering a delightful multimedia concert, recipes from around the world, videos of Passover songs in many languages, and an original haggadah supplement for you to bring these traditions to your seder. Click on the images below to see and hear more.

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The Persian tradition of whipping guests with scallions during Dayenu at a seder in Los Angeles (image from Haggadot.com)

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A Yemenite table; celebration in Georgia. See images of Passover tables around the world.

For more information on global diversity of Passover celebrations, check out these books:

  • Abadi, Jennifer Felicia. 2018. Too Good to Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe. Jennifer Abadi.

  • Kurshan, Ilana. 2008. Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights?: “The Four Questions” Around the World. Schocken.

  • Lowenstein, Steven. 2000. The Jewish Cultural Tapestry: International Jewish Folk Traditions. Oxford University Press.

  • Ochs, Vanessa. 2020. The Passover Haggadah: A Biography. Princeton University Press.

  • Raphael, Chaim. 1993. A Feast of History: The Drama of Passover through the Ages. Reprint edition. Bnai Brith International.

  • Spiegel, Murray, and Rickey Stein. 2013. 300 Ways to Ask the Four Questions. Second edition. Spiegel-Stein Publishing.

If you read Hebrew, you can also find resources, such as haggadah manuscripts and recordings in many languages, from the Hebrew Language Academy and the National Library of Israel.

This article and this page discuss a variety of seder customs from around the world, including traditions regarding the Ten Plagues and Elijah the Prophet and decorating the door with "blood."

If you wish to express gratitude for this multitude of materials, you can donate to the documentation of endangered Jewish languages.

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Editor: Sarah Bunin Benor      Last update: 2020-03-31

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