Passover arrives on Monday, April 14 — beginning a week of food and fest in Jewish households, much akin to the Yaqui and Christian Easter rituals of cleansing and rebirth. Passover in turn commemorates the exodus of the Hebrews from Egyptian captivity and the birth of the Jewish nation. There are symbolic foods (the matzo reminds us how the Jewish needed to flee their homes, leaving behind all their leavened breads), with the Seder meal and its dishes the center of Passover ritual, rich in detail that reminds those gathered of their Jewish heritage (from the green vegetables, called karpas, symbolizing new growth, to the haroset sweet paste with its colors similar to the mud used by Hebrews to build the Pharoah’s pyramids.)
While The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona (http://www.jewishtucson.org/page.aspx?id=152439) provides a listing of all upcoming events related to all branches of Judiasm and to Tucson Passover celebrations, the downtown Jewish History Museum (JewishHistoryMuseum.org) is the site of the original synagogue of the Arizona Territory. It brims with collections related to the region’s Jewish history. In April, the Jewish History Museum opens to the public its collection of haggadahs (prayer books used in Seder services), as well as its collections of unique photos, Seder plates and other artifacts of Southern Arizona Passover practice. The Museum also houses timelines of Tucson Jewish history, regional lore, and it displays the original synagogue’s time capsule memorabilia (laid in the 1910 synagogue cornerstone). To view all this, the Jewish History Museum is open to the public Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sundays from 1 to 5pm, and Friday from Noon to 3pm.