Passover in Israel

By: Matan Graff

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is probably my favorite holiday (no offense, Purim). It is really hard to choose a favorite holiday. In a way, choosing your favorite holiday is like choosing your favorite child or your favorite sibling. You love them all, but there has got to be one little something that tips the scale towards one of them.

As a kid, I really liked Pesach (mainly because we got two weeks off from school). Like many other kids my age, I used to participate in many activities and trips with my youth group friends. I saw many places, hiked in many areas and slept under the sky. I absolutely loved the fact that I got to spend my time off from school that way.

Pesach also marks the unofficial beginning of the spring in Israel. It is the most beautiful time of the year. Everything is green, and the weather is usually beautiful. A lot of people like to go out and enjoy nature before it gets really hot. You will see families having a picnic in the park, kids playing everywhere and even people swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.

But it’s not only the weather that makes Pesach such a great time of the year. There is one word we use often during Pesach in Israel (and also here in the United States)—food. My family’s Seder is gigantic. I really don’t know how my grandparents manage to fit everyone in the same room and how we manage to fit all the food on one table. I really enjoy the fact that outside of Israel, the Passover Seder is celebrated twice (maybe because of the fact that I’m not the cook). It’s another opportunity to see your family and friends from the community. During Pesach in Israel, every restaurant, fast food place and coffee shop will serve kosher for Passover products. Even the non-kosher places will offer matzah or alternatives for those who keep kosher. My favorite hummus restaurant in Nazareth, owned by an Israeli Arab, also offers matzah as a gesture to their Jewish costumers. Now imagine how hard it is to “wipe” hummus with matzah.

A few weeks before Pesach, the supermarkets are filled with kosher-for-Passover products. For me, as one with celiac disease (gluten intolerance), it’s like a kid walking in a candy store. There are so many gluten-free options. It’s definitely something to look forward to.

Passover is also a very busy time on my family’s farm. Our workers and my father work hard to make sure we send enough herbs and spices to the market so people can buy items for their Seder plate or for other delicious dishes.

Pesach is a wonderful time to go and visit Israel, and I invite you to come and celebrate it with my family in the near future.

Whether or not Pesach is your favorite holiday, I hope we will all have a great, warm and beautiful Pesach!

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