Passover – A Social Experience

Passover was busy for us this year. As a testament to how many nice people we have met here in Israel, we were with people for every festival day and Shabbat. It was wonderful to have a chance to spend time with so many people, although by the end of the holiday we were socially exhausted. šŸ™‚

Once we successfully cleaned our house and enjoyed our last bit of chametz at Burgers Bar, we went to bed. We got up early so that Adam could go to synagogue, where he completed the morning prayers and participated in Torah study. As a first born son, he has special obligations on the day of the seder. Mainly, he has to fast unless he goes to synagogue and participates in the morning activities. You can imagine that it didn’t take much motivation to get up early. While he was at synagogue, I prepared our contribution to the seder that we would be bringing with us to the Rosensweigs. When Adam returned, we finished packing, burned our chametz, and made our way to the bus. We got to Ra’anana a bit later than we expected, but it all worked out. We helped the Rosensweigs finalize preparations for the seder, which was nice. After all, we love to be with the Rosensweigs and by coming earlier to help, we got extra time with them. I have to admit that we were exhausted by the time seder started but everything was beautiful. As the sun began to set, the house became filled with familiar faces; Elisha’s parents, his grandmother, and Anat’s mother and step-father. It really was a family meal, and we truly felt honored to be included. It confirmed that we have really become part of the Rosensweig family.

The seder itself was very meaningful. The Rosensweigs have the tradition that each person uses whatever hagadah that they want, and of course they have a lot to choose from. We brought our own that had English translations since an important part of the mitzvah of seder is to hear and understand the story. Therefore, while the Rosensweigs read the story in Hebrew, I followed along in English. Even though he says his Hebrew isn’t so good, Adam kept up with the Hebrew. Rather than going around the table and having each person read, everyone read together which was cool. At any point, if someone had something interesting to say relating to what was being read, everyone would stop and listen. Everyone had fascinating insights to add to what was written. The kids were real troopers, staying up as late as they could (I think Kinneret stayed up later than me!) They sang songs, did little skits, and proudly asked the four questions. It was a wonderful atmosphere that helped dull the homesickness. It has always been hard for me to be away from my family on Passover since it is my favorite holiday. Both Adam and I really enjoyed ourselves. The meal was delicious and the company was amazing! By the end, we were both exhausted, but we went to bed and got a good nights rest.

The next day was more low key. We got up relatively early so that Adam could get to synagogue on time. I remained at the Rosensweig house to help with the kids. We had a nice breakfast of cottage cheese pancakes and played games. Time went by quickly, and all of a sudden the guys were back from synagogue. We had a chance to rest a little and then we had lunch, followed by more rest. When we weren’t resting we were having meaningful conversations with Elisha and Anat or playing with the kids. It was a really nice day, and of course it came to an end quicker than we wanted. After deliberation about future plans for the following day, we decided to return to Jerusalem.

The rest of the week zipped by as we spent our time doing a little work and going to the Jerusalem Ice City and for a hike in the Carmel (see Israel Excursion – March posts). Friday afternoon we got on a bus for Petakh Tikva. The grandparents of the kids I babysit for live in Petakh Tikva, and they invited us for Shabbat. Jacov, Esther, and the boys were there too which was wonderful! Matan was very excited the entire week leading up to Passover that we were going to be spending Shabbat with him. Interestingly, he was pretty shy around us for most of the time we were there. Yishai was happy to see me, which was nice, although I could tell he was a bit confused since I’m not usually there when both his parents are. The kids were very cute, and Jacov’s family was incredibly nice. At each meal, the table was overflowing with food which was all excellent. Almost all of Jacov’s brothers were with us (3 out of the 4 actually). The entire family is musically talented, and so often when they would sing songs during the meals I would listen rather than join in. There was lots of lively conversation too in Hebrew, English, and French, and Adam even wowed everyone by solving a puzzle cube that hadn’t been solved for years. It was really a fun time!

Petakh Tikva was a really nice place. It was definitely warmer than in Jerusalem, which wasn’t surprising since it is along the coast like Tel Aviv. The community that the Meyer’s live in has German roots. Interestingly, they told us that the community worked hard to maintain the customs that they brought with them to Israel rather than become more Israeli. It was a nice synagogue; the people were kind and everything felt familiar.

At the end of Shabbat, we once again returned home. We got in a bit late since the clocks had changed. Sunday was a bit crazy with trying to get work done and getting ready for the last festival day. Thankfully I didn’t have to cook since we were invited out for both meals. At night we had dinner with a family from the synagogue that we go to here. They are very nice, and it was great getting to know them. We had already spent a little time with them at the pre-Passover synagogue dinner that we went to, but we got a chance to get to know them even better. Monday lunch we went to the house of someone Adam met at the university. She and her husband were very hospitable. Their son was also very nice, and we got to meet friends of theirs that actually live close to us. We had a delicious meal of matzagna which amazingly tastes good even though it is lasagna made from matzah. As we walked home, a dust storm settled in on Jerusalem. We got home in just time to close our windows. Then we took the time to rest since it wasn’t appealing to go outside. We needed it also; all this socializing was tiring, and we had lots to do once the holiday ended.

Before the holiday came to an end, we went to our synagogue for the afternoon and evening prayers. In between, there was a small meal where there was more socializing but in a much more laid back way. It was a fun way to bring the holiday to a close.

With the end of the holiday came more cleaning. We washed any remaining dishes that we had in the sink and packed away all our Passover things so that they would be ready for next year. Amazingly it didn’t take that long…back home we often took a day or so to get things put away so we could start eating chametz in our house again. Once again, we learned that it is easier to clean things up when you have less to clean since we only bought the bare minimum here. Once we were finished we once again took advantage of being in Israel and went to get pizza from the pizza place near our apartment. It was insane since everyone else had the same idea. I have never seen people make pizzas so fast! It was amazing to watch, and we got to observe a lot since it took almost an hour to get our order (It was really busy after all). We brought it back to the apartment and dug right in. Much to Adam’s surprise the peppers he ordered on half the pizza were spicy! Oh well! I really enjoyed my cheese pizza. šŸ™‚

Overall we had a really great Passover experience. We got to spend time with amazing people and continued to build new relationships. And I really can’t complain, I really like to eat Matzah!!

Until next time…

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2 Responses to Passover – A Social Experience

  1. Troy says:

    When you talk about cleaning does that just refer to dishes, cookware, and such? I gathered the cleaning was necessary to remove any chametz left behind on dishes. I also assume that cleaning that is mentioned doesn’t refer to things like floors, bathroom, and such. I am also curious why different dishes are needed for Passover.

    • agamzon says:

      Troy – sorry for the delayed response. In answer to your questions, as you surmised, cleaning dishes is necessary for sanitary as well as chametz removal reasons. The removal of chametz, however, is not limited to dishes because of the injunction that chametz should not be found in our homes. This means that we do need to make an effort to clean the floors, couch cushions, etc. where we brought food during the rest of the year. Separate dishes are necessary because of the concept that through cooking some of the taste of the food gets absorbed in the cookware. Therefore, just like we avoid cooking/eating meat in/off of pots or dishes designated for use with dairy, we also avoid cooking items for Passover on dishes that were previously used with chametz; i.e., it’s not just the raw ingredients that makes something kosher/kosher for passover but also the environment in which it’s cooked.

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