Maimouna: A Post-Passover Celebration

An exuberant Sephardic custom whose origins are the subject of debate

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Numerous legends about acts of salvation that occurred on this date arose, and the festival spread through North Africa and to America, where the Maimouna meal provides closure for Passover, and into Israel, where the community gathers in Jerusalem. The holiday traditionally continues the next day with picnics and outings at beaches, fields, and cemeteries.

For the Sabbath after Pesach, when the approaching start of the month Iyar was announced, challah was sometimes made in the shape of a key. Sprinkled with sesame seeds representing the mahn (manna) that began to fall in Iyar (after the Exodus from Egypt, as related in the Torah), the challah stood for the key to our livelihood, which is in God's hands.

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Lesli Koppelman Ross is a writer and artist whose works have appeared nationally. She has devoted much of her time to the causes of Ethiopian Jewry and Jewish education.