A painting depicting the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea
Hebrews crossing the Red Sea in Exodus. Painting by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) via Wikimedia Commons

Passover, the commemoration of the Old Testament story of the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, begins at sundown on Saturday, March 27.

This 2021 observance will be the second during the coronavirus pandemic, which in many ways echoes the Biblical story.

According to the book of Exodus, God brought 10 plagues to the land of Egypt that ultimately persuaded the pharaoh to agree to Moses’ demand: “Let my people go.”

Jews in San Diego will gather — mostly via Zoom — for a ritual meal called a Seder, which means order. It features six symbolic foods, including matzah, a cracker-like unleavened bread symbolizing the hasty exodus from ancient Egypt when there was not enough time to let the bread rise.

During the Seder, people drink four cups of wine, symbolizing the promises that God made to the Israelites, including deliverance from bondage.

A week later on Sunday, Christians in San Diego will celebrate Easter, with socially distanced services at many congregations. In fact, the two holidays are always entwined for historical reasons.

Easter was originally celebrated on the first Sunday following Passover. The Christian Council of Nicaea in 325 officially separated Easter from the Jewish calendar, but in practice the dates remain associated by the way they are calculated.

The Christian holiday has come to be the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or soonest after the March equinox. Passover occurs on the first full moon in the spring under the Jewish calendar.

Times of San Diego wishes San Diego’s Jews a happy Passover and Christians a happy Easter in this difficult time.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.