Passover is a very special time to be in Israel. While it can be a tough week at home, both because there is bread everywhere and most other people are eating it, and because that fact offers a constant reminder that we are a tiny minority, in Israel, as you can imagine, it is totally different. Everyone is celebrating Passover in one way or another. Many restaurants serve kosher for Passover food or at least have matzah as an alternative to bread. And, everyone says Chag Sameach to each other. Of course, that is how we greet each other in the synagogue, but to have the store clerks, and the security guards and the random people walking down the street say it is a fantastic experience. It feels really good to be a part of the whole instead of feeling like you are outside it.
Maybe it is a little taste of what it is like to celebrate Christmas in the States and to hear everyone saying Merry Christmas. It used to really frustrate me that people would fight to say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. I wondered why people would work so hard to intentionally ignore all the minorities in the country. But, maybe now I can see it from others' perspective. It isn't ignoring us as much as it is wanting to feel that sense of wholeness and connection with other members of society. There were plenty of Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem who said Chag Sameach to me and I to them, and it felt good. So, at least for today, I intend not to begrudge anyone that positive feeling of saying Merry Christmas and having others say it in return. Especially if people can promise that by saying Merry Christmas, they are not denying my existence, just celebrating their holiday.
We'll see how I feel next December.
The one draw back to being in Israel rather than the US is obtaining a shank bone. I've never paid for a shank bone at home. Here, one butcher wanted me to pay 50 shekels for it and two others would only sell me the whole leg of lamb. Luckily, we have an aquaintence who was making lamb and had an extra bone.
Here are some things that you can see on the streets of Jerusalem before and during Pesach.
|People bringing pots and pans to be kashered for Passover|
|Pots, pans and utensils dipped in the boiling water so they are kosher for Passover|
In the picture above, you can see that someone brought a lulav from Sukkot to burn with their chametz. Some believe that, because the lulav was used to fulfill and mitzvah, you should not just throw it away. Rather, you should use it for another mitzvah if possible. Thus the tradition is to use the lulav to start the fire in which you burn your chametz.
|Making Yemenite matzah|
And this is a small grocery store a few blocks from where we live.
|Chametz covered and unsaleable during Pesach|
And on a completely different topic, here are a few images from Obama's visit last month.
|Motorcade a block from our apartment|
|Greenpeace activists climbed the cables of this bridge early in the morning and were too high for authorities to reach.|
|They would not let us stand within a few hundred meters of the entrance to the President's house where Obama was visiting so he never got this message, but the kids had fun making the signs anyway.|
Belated Chag Sameach!