Prepping for Pesach in the Holy Land
Passover is one of the most iconic holidays for Jews, and most people the world over are familiar with at least a few of the laws and customs involved. For an entire week, Orthodox Jews refrain from eating any leavened bread or bread products. Instead, they partake in the traditional matzah bread, a flat, cracker-like treat that is actually quite tasty especially when topped with some kind of spread.
If your Israel trip falls out during this holiday season, here are a few things you’re going to want to know.
Must know Tidbits
Before you go making some cultural blunders, you should know a few things about Israel during Passover:
- If you are staying in a religious area, you will not find unleavened bread. That is, dough that has risen for more than 18 minutes is forbidden (referred to as chometz), and Jews can’t eat this during Passover.
- Instead, you’ll find a variety of palatable alternatives, and it’s pretty amazing how creative Jews can get with their food substitutes. A challenge: go to a restaurant and see if you can taste the difference!
- All public buildings and services will be closed during the holiday portion of Passover. This consists of the first night and day (Monday the 10th and Tuesday the 11th until sundown), the regular Shabbat, and again the last night and day of the holiday (Monday the 17th after sundown until Tuesday the 18th until sundown). No buses or trains will be running, and most stores will be closed so plan ahead.
- There will be many free and delightful activities available from Tuesday night through Monday for tourists and locals to enjoy.
Fun Activities for the Family
Ein Yael Interactive Museum: The Ein Yael Museum is a delightful experience for kids to learn about life during Biblical times. Children and adults will enjoy making mosaics, painting on fresco, basket weaving, musical instrument making, and oil production, to name a few of the workshops available. There is also a petting farm that will surely get little kids squealing with glee.
Matzah Factory Tour: You can visit the Yehuda Matzah Factory for a tour of their premises and process. This factory has two areas: one that is kosher for Passover and one that is used all year round.
Kidron Valley Festival: Kidron Valley in Jerusalem hosts a fabulous festival for the family with street theater, a Bible-themed hospitality tent, camel rides, tours, workshops, and more. And it’s all free!