Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Year in Jerusalem!

The Passover Seder ends with the line "next year in Jerusalem."  I have never been in Israel during Passover.  The one year I could/should have been, 1991, my first year of rabbinical school, I left the country because of the first Gulf War, so I am very thankful I had the opportunity to go this year. It is magical.

Many people want to know what you say at the end of the Seder if you are in Jerusalem.  Do you say "next year in Oakland?"  Actually, you still say "next year in Jerusalem," because the idea is that, ideally, you should be here every year.  They actually add a word to the phrase "benuya," which means rebuilt or in a rebuilt state.  "L'shana haba'ah b'Yerushalayim benuya."  Next year may we be in Jerusalem, and may it be rebuilt to its holiest state. It will be at least another 10 for me, so I enjoyed it while we could.

We were set up by the Conservative movement with a very nice family (Charlie and Alexis), who had three boys of their own who spoke perfect English as well as Hebrew.  So Micah and Jonah were very happy.  The food was delicious, and the Seder was meaningful for both children and adults.  It was a 40 minute walk, and we didn't leave until almost Midnight, but it was great to do at least once.

Because of the state of our apartment this was the most cleaning we have ever done for Passover.  It felt truly liberating to get rid of not only our literal chametz (products made from wheat, barley, oat, spelt, and rye in a leavened state), but to have a mostly clean, functioning apartment.  We had to throw away three old mattresses, whose smoke stench was beyond repair and buy three new ones, but it was worth it.
And dumped in planters.
Massive chametz burning "stations"
all over town.
By the way, this year we are Sephardic.  We have decided that we are not going to worry about eating the Kitniyot (additional restrictions added by Ashkenazic Jews in the Middle Ages) on rice, corn, millet, peas, and legumes).  Most Israelis keep the Sephardic restrictions only, and because of the language barrier, it is very hard to tell which is which for us.

We are having fun exploring some of my old haunts.  We went to the "mekolet," which is like a corner store, closest to where I lived my year in Jerusalem.  A gem of a man named Tuvye is still the owner and is there every day.  We enjoyed catching up in my broken Hebrew.  

They pronounce the second "L"
and say Lin-co-lin"
Tuvye the Mekolet Owner

  One of our other big outings this week was to the Shuk, Machane Yehuda, a huge open air food market. 

Other things we bought there included a soccer ball and a basketball, which the boys have brought to some parks, including a miniature park paid for by Kirk Douglas, where, when people see them playing with the balls, join in in an instant pick-up game.  The fact that they don't know any Hebrew seems not to matter at all during these times.  And while most of the Israelis do not know much English,  they somehow seem to know the swear words, which Micah finds hilarious.
Pass it to Micah; he's wide open.
Chag Sameach, a happy Passover to all!


  1. chag sameach to you all...enjoy reading and seeing the photos

  2. Swearing in English to Israelis doesn't have the same impact as it has in an English-speaking country. When I was newly arrived in the US I was in the habit of swearing a bit, since in Israel no one raised an eyebrow. I'll never forget giving a ride to a then 10-year-old from TBA, and when someone cut me off, and I used the s-word, she exclaimed in surprise, "You said a bad word!" Soon afterward I cleaned up my language!

  3. Heard from your mother that you are running into many friends! Marissa is there too--who knows who you might see..Thank you for sharing these experiences with us. Elijah did not make it to our table--he was too cranky..but you can meet him when you return.
    (Used your mom's hints for great matzoh balls!!)