efe-epaJerusalem

Israel's Jewish community is set to mark Passover, the holiday that commemorates the departure of their ancestors from Egypt after being liberated from slavery.

"Each year at the Seder table (a ritual dinner), I am deeply moved. Passover touches upon the roots of our national identity. Thousands of years ago we raised the banner of freedom and liberty. We went from slavery to freedom, from subjugation to independence," Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted to his official Twitter account.

The dinner will give way to a festive week in Israel, which celebrates Passover, one of the main celebrations in the Jewish calendar, in which most abstain from leaven, including bread and beer.

Many Israeli families, especially those of religious backgrounds, spend the days leading up to Passover cleaning their homes of yeast products or leaven, by either getting rid of it, selling it to non-Jews or burning it.

A large number of local shops also empty their businesses from leavened products and prepare flour-and-water based food, which is known as Matzo, in a bid to commemorate their ancestors hurried departure from Egypt when, tradition says, the original Israelites did not have time to bake their bread.

The Passover Seder is to be held later in the day after several traditional rituals, including washing hands in a specific way, drinking four glasses of wine and reading Haggadah, a book that tells the biblical story of the Exodus that took place 3,500 years ago, after over 200 years of slavery and the 40 years of wandering in the desert, searching for the Jewish promised land.

"The importance of remembering this story and transmitting it from one generation to another lies in that the story of the Exodus from Egypt is the story of the creation of the Jewish nation," Rabin Dov Halbertal told Efe.

Thus, all the Jewish people of Israel, from the most religious to the most secular, mark Passover.

Two thirds of the Jewish people in Israel respect the prohibition of leavening-based foods, and some of them especially Ashkenazi Jews, whose ancestors came from eastern and central Europe, abstain from eating rice, corn and some legumes, according to a recent study by the Israel Democracy Institute.

"This holiday is less religious and more traditional, with a folkloric element, that's why some Israelis take advantage of the festive days to travel and celebrate it wherever they happen to be," Halbertal added, commenting on the huge Passover dinners that have been held in several parts of the world.

pd/ta/sdh/sh