Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pesach Wrap-Up: The Food....The Holiday

Well, now that the kitchen is back to its old self, here, in no particular order, are my thoughts on our first Pesach as Israelis:

--As would be expected, the pizza shops and bakeries were mobbed before Pesach began.  One place set up a very unseasonal Sukkah on the sidewalk to handle their overflow crowd.  I also saw one woman who just plunked down on the sidewalk with her little kids and an open pizza box.

--One bakery, at midnight the night before Pesach started, gave away everything they had left.

--Before Pesach started, there were several stands set up on the streets to kasher utensils, pots, etc by boiling:

--When it was time to burn our chametz, I was about to go online to find out where to do that, but first I went out on our balcony to water the plants.  I looked across the street and, yup, there was a fire burning :)

that's Shalom Shachne and Ilana burning our Cheerios
--it was very odd having only one Seder, although I'm not complaining about how much less work it was to prepare for.  The next day, Chana was reading a Haggadah with commentary by one of her teachers and she noted how weird it was to not have a second Seder to share it at (told her it was fine at any point, of course).

--We were delighted to be joined by our Malden buddy, Rachel L, who was visiting Israel for a few weeks.  Rachel, surprisingly enough, was with us for a Seder *last year* as well.  Amazing.....Especially when I think back to that time, when we were in the midst of making plans but had not made the news of our aliyah public yet.  Amazing....(Anyone else who has ever been at a Seder at our house is cordially invited to "be like Rachel" and come visit, too.  In case you didn't know that)

--Pesach ended with a two day Holiday by going into Shabbos.  For those Americans here, they had a Yom Tom/Shabbos mix but we just had Shabbos.  This led to our having two versions of kiddush at each meal--one for the Israelis and one for the Americans (we had Sara Malya M., formerly of Boston, staying with us, and then seminary gals or yeshiva guys as guests at every meal).

--I was (of course) very unused to everything that is usually spread out over two days of Yontif being squished into one day.  For example, in the middle of davening, a lot of people started walking out of shul.  Since it's actually not all that unusual here for people to come and go, I didn't pay too much attention, just was trying to work out mentally what part of the service had just been announced.  Thankfully, Chana understood that what was announced was Yizkor and we should also leave.  My first thought was, "but that's tomorrow!  Oh, riiiight...."

--We noted the end of Pesach by eating kitniyot on Shabbos.  We had hommus on our matza :)

--While we're speaking of kitniyot, to follow on my last post about how many products here contain kitniyot, I noticed there is also a certification saying "Kosher for Passover Without Fear of Kitniyot".  At first the Hebrew really threw me, because I had only been looking for the word kitniyot as a sign to NOT buy something.  Chana figured it out, though.  WHEW!

--Here most dairy products are marked "Kosher for Passover only if bought before Passover starts".  In the US, I was used to buying all of our eggs and Lact-Aid milk before Pesach, but this was a tough thing to get used to, especially with only one fridge and no second freezer.

--Many products had two kosher certifications on them.  One that was their standard packaging that said "Kosher but not for Passover" and then either a stamp as part of time/date info that said it WAS kosher for Passover, or a different second certification stamp altogether.  To say this threw me for a loop is an understatement.  Like it took me up until the day Pesach started to find packaged raisins.  I was standing in the store saying to myself, "okay, you are missing something.  Pesach starts tonight.  The WHOLE store is kosher for Passover.  Those very, very religious people just left the aisle with raisins.  LOOK to find the hidden the Passover certification or there will be no charoset tonight!"  And, whew, there is was.  Finally.

While we're speaking of everyone's favorite Seder food, I was amused to find ready-made charoset:

--The mercaz, where we do almost all of our shopping (it's about 25 little stores selling anything/everything and two moderately-sized supermarkets) was beautifully quiet the entire Chol HaMoed (the intermediate days of the holiday).  Only the supermarkets were open, and they were on a reduced schedule.  No shechting (ritual slaughter), so no fresh chicken for the last days of Pesach!

--It was fascinating to see things that were kosher for Passover

"Waffle Factory"?!  Seriously?!

Ilana had very yummy GF Passover ravioli at this restaurant.  I love how even the restaurants look like a home kitchen on Pesach: everything covered in aluminum foil and sealed off with plastic wrap. 
--It was very interesting the few times we drove through the (very, very) religious neighborhood near us.  The large families were all decked out in their holiday clothing, including the kids in matching outfits (up through teens, the girls will often wear clothes that match their little sisters) and the men in fur shtreimel hats and their special Shabbos/holiday kapotas

--Ilana's thoughts: "Pesach was really, really fun for me because I could eat everything.  I loved hiking all the way to Beit Shemesh.  It was so fun and cool to see that I could hike all that way without even feeling tired so much.  The view was awesome!

editor's note: 2.5 hour hike through the foothills of the Judean mountains.  It was awesome!
And bowling--I never thought we'd get to do it because we kept going and then leaving because the line was so long, but we finally did and it was so fun."

Among other trips on Chol HaMoed, we went with Nefesh B'Nefesh to Ein Yael a "living museum" of Jewish life during Roman times (the good parts of it, anyway....).  There was pottery making:

and flute making (SO Israeli--"here's a long piece of bamboo and a sharp knife.  Cut several pieces of bamboo off and then we'll help you tie them together".  We'll just say the "Nurse Ellen" in me couldn't watch little kids do it)

Chana and I, unfortunately, discovered we have no future in basket-making.....

But, overall, it was very fun and I really enjoyed talking with other people with the NBN stickers on (there were five busloads of people just from our town!)

We also went to the drive-through "Safari" in Ramat Gan.  Loved seeing so many animals up close:

He was very majestic!

In the attached zoo, we saw some animals that I had never seen before (different varieties of bears, mostly) and had fun renting a golf cart (Chana finally got to drive for the first time since August [she will need to be 25 before I can sign her on to our rental car agreements])

--So, all in all, a really fun holiday!  We can only say, as we do at the end of the Seder, "LeShana HaBa’ah B’Yerushalayim HaBenuya” (next year in the rebuilt Yerushalayim)!"

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