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Is It Appropriate to Say “Happy Passover”?

One of those funny little unwritten “rules” about being in HR is that you are required to keep track of a diverse set of religious holidays, and must understand the significance of each. Passover is one of those key holidays and given that today is Passover, I thought it would be appropriate to address the issue of how you greet someone who observes this holiday (even though your Jewish colleagues may not be at work today).

I thought of this today because I had a client meeting at a deli, where they were preparing for a Seder. I had forgotten it was Passover, but I enjoy Jewish experiences, so I was happy that this is where I landed for lunch.

Basically, Passover is the celebration of the Israelites’ freedom from slavery by the ancient Egyptians. This is the Coles Notes version of one of the great stories in the Bible, and if you are too lazy to read Exodus, watch the series on TV.

The fact that it is a celebration means that it is appropriate to say the words “Happy Passover” to your colleagues who observe it.  This is in contrast to another Jewish high holiday, Yom Kippur, to which it would be less appropriate to say “Happy Yom Kippur”.  This is because Yom Kippur is a day of atonement and is signified by repentance, prayer and fasting. As alternatives for Yom Kippur, you could wish your colleagues an “Easy Fast” or “the Best of a Good Year”.

Given the vast make-up of our grand city, I am wondering if my fellow HR Professionals have experiences regarding religious holidays in the workplace. If you do, please share.

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