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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pesach Preps and other Ramblings

I made aliyah at age 25 and never really "made" Pesach before I came to Israel, but I remember enough about the pre-Pesach preparations to note a few differences between preparing in America and preparing in Israel.

Some of them:
1. In America, 1% of the population is buying 3x (or more) the usual number of eggs for the following week. In Israel, 80% of the population is stocking up on eggs. The egg supply is...um...limited.

2. In America, you generally don't speak to the other people in the supermarket. In Israel, you're intimately involved with all of your fellow shoppers. I am asked to help older people open the plastic bags for their vegetables, help read the labels for non-native Hebrew speakers to ascertain whether something is Kosher for Pesach and, if so, if it's kosher for Ashkanazim/Sepharadim, and give halachic (Jewish law) rulings about the suitability of various questionable items -- are raisins OK? flavored teas? oat matza? (yes, yes and yes, as long as they've been packaged "kosher for Passover")

3. In America, everyone maintains a certain distance from other shoppers when shopping. In Israel, it's not only common, but quite usual to have several shoppers, waiting in several different check-out lines, comparing which other stores in the area have certain items that were missing at the store where they are presently shopping.

4. Kosher-for-Passover pet food in America? I don't remember such a thing (though maybe, 30 years later, it exists). Kosher-for-Passover food in Israel. No problem. In fact, the pet shop highlights it and will deliver.

5. Want to do hagalat kalim (heating utensils to make them kosher for Pesach?) in America? I don't know what you'd do, at least, outside of New York (where some communities may organize something). In Israel, the municipality has a roving crew that goes to different neighborhoods during the week before Pesach with a blowtorch (for oven grills and some kinds of pots) and a vat of boiling water so that people can bring their stuff, for free, to be kashered.

6. And, just for one last experience...
I had to go up to the main street on Sunday morning to take care of a bunch of errands, so I used the opportunity to stop at the Post Office to deposit a check.

After waiting in line for about 20 minutes, I got to the clerk, only to find that the check was dated for the next day, so I couldn't deposit it.

Just as I was kicking myself (the check had been left open, and I, actually, wrote in the date) the manager of the Post Office called me to come into the back room.

He took the check and my deposit slip and told me that he'd take care of it the next day -- I just needed to call him to remind him. "I know that you're busy getting ready for Pesach" he told me.


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