Thursday, April 29, 2010

I sort of forgot about this. I've started journaling again, in an actual handwritten journal, and this kind of fell by the wayside. Sorry. Let's try this again.

First of all-- pictures. My internet here kind of sucks, so once I get back to NY (more on that at a later point in time) I'll upload from my first 6 months as an olah.

So-- Pesach. This is what I wrote in my iGoogledisrael column:
This was my first Passover (Pesach) in Israel, and my first Pesach as an Israeli. One thing that separates Israel from the rest of the world is the number of days in the holiday. Outside of Israel there are 8 days to Passover, and in Israel there are 7—so there is one less holiday-day (called “chag”) than outside. As a new Israeli, the concept of having only one day of chag is a little weird, because it kind of feels like half of the holiday is missing. In a way it is, but it’s still odd to have only one day.

Another difference is that you have to check EVERYTHING for not only being kosher for Passover (Kasher l’Pesach, or abbreviated as “kashl“ap”), but also checking to see if it’s kosher for Passover for everyone, or only for those who eat Kitniyot (legumes and such, including rice, beans, and corn; Jews of Sefardi descent eat them, Jews of Ashkenai descent don’t). There is a lot in Israel that is kosher for Pesach that may contain kitniyot, including drinks, snacks, even yogurt. Outside of Israel, especially in North America where I am from, things will generally not be on the kosher for Passover shelves if they have kitniyot in them, or they will be in a separate area. Here they’re very mixed in and you have to check things very, very carefully.

As far as the products—in Israel there is a law that chametz (leaven) products cannot be displayed for public sale. In North American, if you’re not in a kosher grocery store, then there is usually a part of the store sectioned for Passover products. In Israel, they drape plastic tablecloths over the non-kosher l’pesach areas and put a sign on them that says “chametz.” And anything else is kosher for Passover, however you have to check it for kitniyot.

And since it’s a national holiday, many people are off or take off from work and participate in the Israeli pastime of hiking and camping. The North is just starting to bloom, and many people go camping on the Kinneret and in other areas of the Galil and Golan. Another popular spot is the Dead Sea. One other thing—the buses, at least the Jerusalem buses, alternate the route number and direction with “Chag kasher v’sameach”—“A kosher and happy holiday.”

Passover in Israel…nothing like it.

My Pesach went like this:
-Seder. One day of chag. BBQ for lunch...mmmm!
-Feel like I'm missing half of the chag, so I listen to my aunt and uncle having a seder in the background, sit with them to be social, and then watch Numbers on the computer.
-Plan on relaxing at home
-Nix that plan and go to the Kineret
-Go to Karmiel overnight to see a friend
-Go to Tzefat and spend a day-and-a-half there. Intense.
-Go back home for Shabbat
-Spend Sunday getting ready for more chag
-More chag. One day again. Again, feel like half the chag is missing.
-Undo Pesach
-Isru chag. Have off from Ulpan, go back to Jerusalem

And that was Pesach. It was weird having to check things so much for things being kosher l'pesach NOT l'ochlei kitniyot. Even the Nestle cocoa, which I got in NY and was kosher l'Pesach...not here! It's l'ochlei kitniyot! Tricky things!

Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Ha'atzmaut to follow. As well as Lag Baomer, which is this upcoming Motza"sh.

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