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Passover in Victoria: A blend of tradition and community spirit

Passover is among the five high holidays in Judaism
Passover, an important Jewish observance, begins on April 22, 2024. There are many community seder meals across Vancouver Island, three in Greater Victoria, one in Nanaimo and one in the Comox Valley.. (

As the sun sets on April 22, the Jewish community in Victoria, alongside others across the globe celebrated Passover –a holiday commemorating the liberation of the ancient Israelites from Egypt thousands of years ago.

“We tell the story about how the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and how God performed miracles and Moses led them out of slavery,” said Sharon Fitch, president of the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island.

Passover is an eight-day celebration during which the Jewish community refrains from work for the first two days and the last two days and cannot eat leavened bread.

“God said they would be freed and must prepare to leave on this journey. And, so they had to prepare their food and didn’t have time for their bread to rise,” Fitch said.

Instead, the Jewish community will eat matzah, a bread that doesn’t rise, and has a cracker-like texture.

“It is called the bread of affliction. Because the Israelites were afflicted in slavery,” Fitch said.

Passover is among the high holidays in Judaism, along with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. According to Fitch, these are referred to as the high holidays because God decreed them.

The first night is usually celebrated with a seder meal, sometimes consisting of brisket, matzo ball soup, zucchini pie, and many desserts. According to Fitch, much of the food eaten over Passover is specific to the holiday.

“The way we cook is really specific to this holiday. We don’t usually cook this way other times during the year.”

On April 22, community seders are taking place across Vancouver Island, with three in Victoria, one in Nanaimo, and one in the Comox Valley.

Fitch said that for many in the Jewish community, Passover represents a time of freedom from slavery and persecution and the start of spring.

“It’s like a renewal,” Fitch said.

READ MORE: ‘Latka-Mania’: Saanich Jewish Community Centre celebrates Hanukkah

About the Author: Thomas Eley

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