In the Torah, Nisan is described as the First Month. The very first mitzvah given to the whole Jewish people, who were still enslaved in Egypt, was to set their calendar around Nisan, the month of their freedom.
The Fast of the Firstborn (Ta’anit Bechorot) reminds the firstborn that their lives would have been forfeit at the time of the Exodus and that each is indebted to God for his mercy on Israel. Many avoid the fast by celebrating a Siyum, the completion of a Talmudic Tractate, at Shacharit.
Bedikat Chametz is the search for leaven by candlelight on the night prior to Pesach and Seder Night. This should be done with a feather to dust in the small places and traditionally a wooden spoon, which is burned with the Chametz the following morning. Chametz may not be eaten from the end of the 4th hour of the day (dividing the interval between first light and 3 stars by 12 gives one halachic hour). All Chametz must be sold or destroyed (Biur Chametz) by the end of the 5th hour. Chametz of value that will be wanted after Pesach can be sold to a non-Jew. Sale of Chametz forms are available through the Synagogue office.
The Seder must begin after nightfall (fulfilling the verse to commemorate the Exodus “on that night”).
The Seder Plate is prepared in advance with bitter herbs, parsley, charoset, a burnt egg, shankbone, lettuce and saltwater. These are consumed with the matzah or indicated according to the order of the Haggada.
Four goblets of wine are drunk, representing the four expressions of redemption in Gods promise to Moses. A fifth cup of wine is poured (for Elijah to determine when Messianic redemption is at hand).
The Seder Service is a lively interactive experience, where the idea is to stimulate questions, discussion of and to praise God’s role in our history and destiny.
The Omer is counted every evening from the second night of Pesach through till Shavuot.
It is considered a tragic time – the Talmud records that 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died in a plague for failing to accord each other respect. The plague abated on the Lag B’Omer (The 33rd day of the Omer on 18 Iyar) making it a happy interval in the mournful period.
Weddings, festivities, parties live music and dancing should not take place in the period up to Lag B’Omer. (Other communities observe the mourning from Rosh Chodesh Iyar till Rosh Chodesh Sivan).
The Torah instructs us to count “seven complete weeks”. Accordingly, each day is counted as a number of days and weeks, as per: Today is the __ day of the Omer, making __ weeks and __ days of the Omer.