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Pessah

Pessah celebrates the liberation of the Jews from pharaonic slavery and their exodus from Egypt. The story, from II. Moses tells of the Israelites’ suffering, of their hasty departure with Pharao's army in hot pursuit, of their wandering through the desert as well as the plagues inflicted by God on the Egyptians.

Pessah takes place in the spring and begins with a seder: a long, ritualized meal. Family and friends read from the "Haggadah," which recounds the story of the holiday; they sing and eat. Pessah is also called the "celebration of unleavened bread": in memory of the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt, they are forbidden to eat and drink leavened food and beverages for seven days.

In autumn 2009, the Jewish Museum opened a special exhibition on food and religion. On the exhibition website, you can read about matzah, the unleavened bread, which is served for Passover.

For Passover, there is a post on the blog of the Jewish Museum Berlin

Cardboard pyramid
Chocolate wrapper in the shape of a pyramid as a present for Pessah

Purim

Purim is one of the most cheerful holidays in the Jewish calendar. In fact, however, the Purim story from the Book of Esther has its dark side. The Biblical "Megillat Esther" recounts a plan to murder all the Jews in Persia.

The story tells of the evil vizier Haman, who wins King Ahasverus’s (Artaxerxes II, 405-359 b.c.e.) consent for his plot, and of two Jews, Mordechai and his niece, the beautiful Esther, Ahasverus’s queen who prevents the plan through an act of courage in the presence of the king. Hearing Esther’s plea, the king decides to kill not the Jews, but their enemies instead. This rescue is celebrated in late winter through feasts and costume parties and sending gifts of food to friends and the poor.