Danielle and I had always dreamed of celebrating Passover in Israel.
Both of our parents also dreamed of celebrating Passover in Israel. Our grandparents shared that dream, as did their grandparents. For nearly two thousand years, our family dreamed the impossible dream… to one day have the opportunity to celebrate Passover in the Land of Israel.
As many of you know, every Passover Seder concludes with the reciting of “L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim” which is Hebrew for “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Below is a photo of us reciting those words, together as a family, as we concluded last year’s Seder in Needham. But it was the first time in our family’s history that anyone recited that phrase as a fact and not just a dream.
Danielle and I feel so privileged to be the FIRST members of our family in two thousand years to celebrate Passover in Israel.
The celebration was extra special because we were joined by Danielle’s brother Peter, his wife Michelle, and their two-year-old son Zachary, visiting us from NYC that week.
Passover is one of the most significant Jewish holidays. It is also the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday in Israel. As with most of the holidays here, you can begin feeling the simcha in the air during the weeks leading up to it. Decorations were abound and holiday plans dominated conversations.
The main street running through Raanana:
The kids enjoyed helping Danielle with last minute preparations:
The table is beautifully set!
The kids took pride in preparing welcome signs for their aunt, uncle and cousin arriving just in time for the start of the Seder.
Passover Seder in Israel:
Keeping Passover (only eating food that is kosher for Passover) is quite the chore in the US. It’s almost impossible. It takes tremendous effort and a lot of sacrifice to even come close. The opposite is true in Israel. It would actually take great effort here to break it. EVERYTHING is kosher for Passover. Even the many restaurants that remain open that week convert their kitchens and create special “Kosher for Passover” menus.
We were all surprised to learn that Israel has developed a “bread” alternative for Passover week. It looks like bread and tastes mostly like bread. It’s used for waffles, pancakes, sandwiches, pizza, etc. Seemed a little strange to us and we’re not sure we totally agree with the concept (not judging!). They even serve sandwiches with this “bread” in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City!
Leket Israel, the National Food Bank, is the leading food rescue organization in Israel. Our children first learned about Leket while at Rashi and had been looking forward to a day of volunteering. We were assigned to harvesting beets!
We spent the rest of Passover week touring. Danielle, Jacob and Allison braved the hike up Masada while the rest of us courageously cheered them on from the cable car.
Followed by a refreshing shower at Ein Gedi…
Back at our Dead Sea hotel for dinner:
We concluded our Passover week in Jerusalem, as we had promised at last year’s Seder. The children were anxious to see the plaque at Yad Vashem that was dedicated in honor of their great-grandmother Lucy. The children did not go into the museum. The plaque is located in a memorial on the grounds of Yad Vashem, just outside of the museum.
We think Lucy would have liked this photo:
We concluded this year’s Seder the same way Jews do everywhere in the world with the phrase “L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim”. But we sadly knew that, unlike last year, we were reciting it once again as a dream.