Thursday, April 9, 2009


It is Passover week, and with it comes much celebration here in Israel. Our friends, Kyler and Mylen, invited some of us over for a "Mormon Passover Seder meal" (doesn't the name just make you smile?) on Wednesday night. Jews celebrate the beginning of Passover by having a Seder meal the first night of Passover week. It is somewhat geared towards children and teaching them about the Jews' exodus from Egypt - teaching them that if it wasn't for Moses leading them out of Egypt, they would all still be slaves. They read the story of the exodus, drink 4 cups of wine, eat a symbolic meal which consists of many parts (praying over each one), sing songs, and eat matza. In Jewish homes, the meal itself starts very late, and the celebration usually lasts several hours.

Our hosts did a great job at helping us have our own little Seder. We went through many of the steps, drank lots of grapejuice, and sang songs. So aside from the main dish being Hawaiian haystacks, and the fact that every person in the room was LDS, we had a pretty sweet little Seder!

Gathered around the dinner table. Kyler, the guy on the front right, walked us through a lot of the traditional Seder ritual, and we read lots of scriptures through dinner.

Tom and Kyler eating matza - a Jewish flatbread that is not allowed to rise. Because it is unleavened, it's customary to eat it throughout Passover week. I'll be honest, it doesn't taste very good. It's pretty much just flour and water (and that's Mylen popping her head into the picture in the background. It's her hidden talent - she's hilarious).

Tom has two whole weeks off of school for Passover, which is great. What's not so great is a lot of stores are closed at the beginning and at the end of the holiday, and so are many of the streets, just like on Shabbat. We had somewhere we really needed to be today, but because of closed off streets, we drove around for hours and never could find a way to get there. It was very stressful because we kept taking detours through very religious neighborhoods (we were totally lost) and you should have seen the looks of death we got, even from children. Even on roads that were not blocked off, there wasn't a car in sight - mostly just crowds of Jews in their religious clothing walking around, not happy with the "pagan" Americans ruining their sacred holiday. We felt horrible.

Also, most grocery stores have literally half of their aisles blocked off because you can't buy anything leavened - in other words, carbs. The holiday officially started on Wednesday night, but they start blocking everything off in the stores the night before. So Tuesday when we tried going to the grocery store to stock up on pasta, crackers, bread, and pita, we barely made it. There was actually a guy covering the pastas as we got there, but I pretty much begged him to let me grab some that he had already covered. He took pity on me :). Our friend Mylen said she tried sneaking something from behind the aisle coverings on Wednesday, but when the item scanned at the checkout, a big Israeli flag blinked on the screen and said in big letters that it was a forbidden item. The cashier questioned her to death about how she got it. I'm guessing she won't be sneaking anymore. :)

Kyler was telling us that even restaurants that are open during Passover have to make big coverings outside to make sure that anything leavened can't be seen by people walking by.

One thing I have learned here is that Jewish people definitely know how to celebrate. They have a LOT of holidays, and they go all out! That's one thing I love about the people here - many of them take their religion very seriously, and do all they can to recognize things of religious significance, using scripture to back up everything.


Shan said...

I must say that it is amazing to her your stories and what life is like for you right now. It is so interesting! Happy passover! (can you say that?)

Jared and Tara said...

SO cool! I didn't know most of that so it was really fun to learn. I don't know what you'd do without carbs (remember when I tried the south beach diet for oh...30 minutes and i couldn't think of anything to eat?)

Megan G said...

THANKS for posting about this! I'm glad to know what it's like over there for Passover.