Preparing for Pesach Among the Crowds

Nomi working on her homemade matzah

For most of my life my family has been on what I’d call the extreme side of the Pesach preparation spectrum. Changing all pots and pans, cleaning out the dust behind every book, item of clothing, under the bathroom sinks, etc. I always knew that this was part of the physical and even spiritual preparation that was particularly important to my mom.  Generally though—whether in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Monroe, Louisiana; or West Roxbury, Massachusetts—we were the only family on the street timing our spring cleaning with Pesach.

Not so in Modiin – and well most of Israel. Everybody is in the mood. This morning on a run (we are not hosting tonight and I am proud to say that my desserts and charoset were all prepared yesterday!), I passed about 15 separate bonfires, attended mostly by men in kippot and young kids, burning small mountains of chametz – bread, cereal, crackers…  I probably inhaled much more carbon dioxide than I should have.

I also passed by the mikveh – the men’s side door was open and there were a few men and boys walking out, tucking in clean white t-shirts, running a hand through their wet hair.  On the women’s side, there was a long line of men waiting in line to immerse their pots, pans and silverware for Pesach.  I could hear the clinking from down the street.

More flour may have ended up on Nomi than in the Matzah

There were sounds of vacuums and more men and children cleaning out cars.  There were a few scattered women, some exercising like me, others playing with kids – I assume they are also guests tonight. The rest are most likely doing what I normally do before Seder, cooking like mad, finding one last scrap of chametz that I forgot to clean out, setting the table and trying to figure out who should sit next to Cousin or Aunt So and So.

As at Hanukkah I am aware of the assumption that the entire State of Israel is Jewish and preparing for Pesach (it’s closer to 75%). There are Israeli flags hanging at every – and I mean every – light post in Modiin. The stores and shuk are overflowing with everything you might need.

And yet, I feel different than I did at Hanukkah. Perhaps because it’s warm out and everyone seems so delighted that spring has come after a particularly long and cold winter.  Perhaps because preparing for Pesach among crowds rather than as an isolated family feels good. Perhaps I am just giving myself a break and enjoying the benefits of being in the majority.

All I know is that I am excited to bring our homemade date charoset and matsah to tonight’s Seder at Shaul and Tania Feinbergs.  I’m even excited about the inevitable Pesach traffic.   No doubt I will miss being with family and friends in Boston – but this night will be different for me.

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3 thoughts on “Preparing for Pesach Among the Crowds

  1. I bet it was different and wonderful and a little sad because your entire family wasn’t around the table. I love that I can peek into your life in Israel. And your girls!!! Is it weird looking at yourself as a little girl? Or Shira when she was little? Because from here it’s like some kind of time warp. They are so beautiful and faces I grew up with! Also, best matzah ever!!!

  2. The compensation for Jews in West Roxbury is that we have two s’darim and one more day of chag! And I sold the chamets to our neighbors. Still it’s nice to have everybody around you on the same wavelength.

  3. I love this post, Aliza. I can’t imagine what it might be like to be in the majority (As usual, I have been cleaning and preparing for Pesach all week here, while the girls have been receiving multiple invitations to Easter egg hunts and the Zoo’s “BunnyBonanzoo.”) Enjoy it, and chag sameach to you and everyone in the Kline/Solmsen household!


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