Saturday, April 23, 2005

Whatcha Doin?

The main reason I write this blog is so that my family and friends that live in the States will know what I am up to without me having to call them all the time.

This week I get to experience my first Passover or Pesach in Israel.

What's Pesach?
Pesach is a springtime holiday that celebrates the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt - when they fled the oppression of the pharaoh and began their 40 year journey to Israel.

Here in Israel, Pesach is marked by frenzied spring-cleaning with a spiritual component in which traditional Jewish households rid themselves of Chametz (leavened food products) and usher in the holiday of renewal. The night before the holiday begins, adults hid pieces of Chametz throughout the house. Children the search the darkened house for Chametz with the aid of a candle, feather, and a spoon. By the light of the candle, children find and sweep Chametz into the spoon with the feather. Then the Chametz is thrown away or burned the next day.

Families hold a traditional Pesach meal called the Seder (literally: order) in which they read the Passover story from a book called the Hagaddah, drink four cups of wine, and eat symbolic foods such as matzah, karpahs (parsley), Charoset, eggs, and maror. The matzah reminds us of the bread of the Hebrew slaves that was made quickly before their departure and didn't have time to rise. The maror recalls the bitterness of slavery. The charoset, which is very tasty, recalls the mortar that was used to make bricks in Egypt. The eggs and parsley evoke the hope of this springtime holiday.

Schools and work places are closed and it's quiet in Jerusalem.

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