Matzoh bread is a crisp, flat, and unleavened bread that Jews eat during an eight-day period. Made not to rise, Matzoh commemorates the bread eaten by the Jews when they fled Egypt to escape the suffering of slavery. To remember this important event no leavened bread is to be eaten or kept in the household. Along with eating Matzoh during the holiday there are many other customs that go along with Passover, such as Afikomen. Afikomen is a ritual, which consists of parents hiding a piece of Matzoh bread somewhere in the house for all of the kids to try and find. The first one to find it is rewarded with some type of gift. Jason says that his family participated in these traditions for his entire life and they take them very seriously. Passover, although not considered one of the high holidays, is very important to the Jewish faith.
Jason said that his first memory of Passover as a child was of Matzoh bread and Afikomen. While it was not until he was older that he fully understood the meaning of Passover as a child he was able to comprehend what Matzoh symbolized. At about the age of five Jasons grandmother explained to him that the reason for eating the flat bread was to remember the Jews that had escaped slavery from Egypt long ago. She went on to explain that the flat Matzoh bread was the only food available to the Jews escaping Egypt, because they did not have enough time to allow the bread to rise before they had to leave there homes and flee the country.
While I have never experienced the holiday of Passover the meaning of Matzoh is easily understandable. Not being able to eat leavened bread is an example of how the Jews sacrifice a food that we take for-granted to show their appreciation to those who suffered for their wellbeing. It is symbol of making a small sacrifice in your daily life to remember and appreciate those who risked their lives escaping their lives as slaves in Egypt.
Although Afikomen is not preformed by all practicing Jews it is very popular among families with younger children. The reason ritual is that most kids are still too young to understand the magnitude of such a meaningful celebration as Passover, but this game is a way to get them involved with the festivities. While the meaning of Passover can be found in the Torah, the traditions and rituals of this holiday are instead past down from one generation to the next through example. Jason went on to explain that he did not learn how to participate in Passover through the Torah, but by learning from his Rabbi and parents.
Herman, Debbie, Ann Koffsky, and Nancy Lane. More Than Matzah: a Passover Feast of Fun, Facts, and Activities. Barron’s Educational Series, 006.