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A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 4/6/18

All Jews agree on when Passover begins. It always starts on the 15th of Nisan which corresponds to last Friday night.

But when does Passover conclude? On this question there is a division of opinion and practice.

In the Torah, Pesach is clearly a week-long festival. “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread” (Exodus 12.15). Hence, Jews in Israel follow the Torahitic practice of observing seven days of Passover.

However, thousands of years ago, Jews who lived outside the Land of Israel were uncertain when to begin their observance. So they added an extra day just to be sure they were not violating the Torah.

In America, the practice of observing eight days of Passover has been kept by Orthodox as well as Conservative Jews. For those who keep a more traditional Passover, Pesach will conclude on Saturday evening.

However the Reform Movement, given the mathematical certainty of the Jewish calendar, considers it illogical to add an additional day for a festival. For Reform Jews, Pesach is a seven day festival. It therefore concludes this evening after sunset.

For anyone who is uncertain whether to follow the more traditional or progressive practice of observing Passover, I have a recommendation. Tomorrow morning, we will hold a Shabbat Service that includes Yizkor. Following the service, I recommend you enjoy a delicious piece of challah. Hence your observance of Pesach will be neither seven nor eight days but precisely seven and a half!

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