During Passover, Jews all around the world begin eating matzah, or unleavened bread. According to the Jewish tradition, leavened cookies, cakes, and breads are forbidden as this is a time to remember when the Israelites escaped from Egypt - and they didn't have time to wait for their dough to rise. So now when Jews celebrate Passover, they honor this time by eating unleavened bread just like the Israelites.
In preparation for Passover, our friends at ISRAEL21c prepared a list of 15 interesting facts about matzah, just in case you wanted to know more about the traditional bread.
1. Matza, matzah, matzo, matzoh … a food with many spellings thanks to its Hebrew origins and no direct English translation. Matzah is also called “poor bread” and “bread of affliction” in the Torah.
4. 18 minutes: Matzah has to be made in less than 18 minutes or else it is considered chametz. Rabbis cite numerous sources showing that fermentation takes place within 18 minutes after the exposure of cut grain to moisture. Eating matzah symbolically pays tribute to the Jews who didn’t have 18 minutes to wait around before running from Pharaoh.
6. Rich bread vs. poor bread: “Rich bread” refers to matzah made with added juice, oil, wine or eggs. It tastes better than the regular flour-water variety and though not chametz, the rabbis ruled it cannot be used at the Seder when the blessing is said over the matzah because it isn’t “poor bread” as described in the Exodus account. The same goes for gluten-free and flavored matzah. (Note: The product called “egg matzah” actually contains juice and no eggs at all.)