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Shabbat: Passover and Not Passover

April 9, 2015

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Thursday, April 9, 2015.

Shabbat: Passover and Not Passover

In America, traditional Jews observe Passover for eight days – but in Israel, Passover is observed only for seven days. It’s a long story, but it has to do with calculating the calendar and announcing the new moon: there was a fear that outside of Israel, people wouldn’t know the accurate date for the beginning of each month (the new moon). Most holidays, therefore, add an extra day if they are celebrated outside of Israel. This year, however, Israelis are having a taste of what we have every year in America. Because the last day of Passover in Israel is Friday, and because Shabbat is Friday night, there’s no time or place to cook food for the Sabbath that isn’t Kosher for Passover! Therefore, even though it isn’t Passover any more, there’s no Pizza on Friday night. No Challah. No pasta (all of which are forbidden on Passover).

The internal days of Passover are known as “Chol HaMo’ed.” They’re not Shabbat- like as are the first and last days of the holiday. Traditional Jews can cook, or drive, or travel. Furthermore, in a Jewish country like Israel (the ONLY Jewish country), everyone has vacation!  Schools are closed. Many offices are closed. The streets are packed with cars. The parks are crowded with picnickers. The whole country is a festival! The rhythms and calendar of the State of Israel are the Jewish calendar. Jerusalem is full of tourists – not just tourists from outside of Israel, but tourists from all over Israel. The old Train Station which is now a kind of mall is full of tables of craftsmen selling their wares.

And of course – eating is always part of the Jewish way. Supermarkets cover up all the shelves that contain goods not Kosher for Passover – and restaurants outdo themselves making Kosher for Passover food that you’d never guess wasn’t regular food. Passover brownies, Passover pasta, Passover hamburger rolls, even borekas (flaky salty cheese or potato pastries) are Kosher for Passover. Most McDonalds in Israel, for example, aren’t actually Kosher. The ingredients are Kosher, but it doesn’t have an official certificate, and some serve cheeseburgers. On Passover, however, they have Kosher for Passover hamburger buns. How does everyone do it? I have no idea; but, it seems slightly sinful to be eating this stuff – aren’t we supposed to suffer?

The Passover menu of a popular Jerusalem Café

Jerusalem McDonalds

A Jerusalem market with non kosher items covered with green plastic – forbidden purchases.

Picnics in the Passover Vacation

The Lions Fountain full of wet vacationing children

The Old Train Station filled with restaurants and tables of crafts, and, of course, crowds

Even the busses in Israel wish you a “Happy and Kosher Pesach.”

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!