JEWISH communities in Greater Manchester are preparing to celebrate their first Passover without any Covid restrictions since the start of the pandemic.

The eight-day event, which marks the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, took place within weeks of the first national lockdown two years ago.

Last year, the first nights of the festival came two days before rules were relaxed to allow outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households.

Unlike the previous Christmas, rules were not relaxed for religious festivals, but Passover celebrations were still held within households as well as online.

This Passover will be the first time since 2019 that Jewish people will be allowed to celebrate the major festival with all of their friends and family.

Jewish people retell the story of exodus from slavery in Egypt at the Seder – a ritual feast at the start of the annual holiday where symbolic foods are eaten.

However, many will be mourning the empty seats at the Seder table this year.

Marc Levy, who is the chief executive of the Jewish Representative Council for Greater Manchester and Region, lost his grandfather during the pandemic.

He said: “Seder night is one of the most important events in the Jewish communal calendar.

“To be able to enjoy it free from restrictions for the first time in three years is something the community is particularly excited about.

“The last three years have been difficult for the community – not to participate in a Seder meal has been a challenge.

“Throughout the years, Jewish people have been coming together to mark freedom from slavery in Egypt.

“These past two years, this has not been possible which has been upsetting and challenging in equal measure.”

When is Passover 2022?

Passover begins on the evening of Friday, April 15 – when the first Seder night takes place – and lasts eight days, ending on the evening of Saturday, April 23.

The festival always starts on the 15th day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar which means that the date in the Gregorian calendar changes every year.

The first nights centre around a meal called the Seder – Hebrew for "order".

Jewish people generally celebrate the festival with a Seder meal on the first night, but many Jews living outside of Israel hold a second Seder night too.

What happens at Passover?

Jewish people retell the story of the exodus from slavery in Egypt on Passover by reading from a book called a haggadah during the Seder night celebrations.

The Seder ceremony features foods which each have symbolic meanings.

This includes matza – unleavened bread – which is typically eaten throughout the eight days because eating certain grains during the festival is forbidden.

Chametz – most foods made with wheat, barley, spelt, oats or rye – cannot be consumed during Passover and according to some customs, Jews must also refrain from eating kitniyot which includes beans, peas, lentils, rice and corn.

How do you wish someone a Happy Passover?

To wish someone a Happy Passover, you can simply say “Chag Sameach” which means “happy holiday” or “happy festival” in Hebrew or you could say “Chag Pesach Sameach” to specifically wish someone a Happy Passover.

Some people also say “chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach” which means “a kosher and happy Passover” in reference to the festival’s dietary restrictions.

The “ch” in these words are pronounced as a strong H sound like in “Loch”.