There’s no place like home

If you’ve never spent a Passover in Israel, you cannot understand this fact: it is the only place to be for Passover.

The fun begins just after Purim. The stores begin stocking Passover goods. No, I am not talking about matza, which of course they bring in about then. Nor am I talking about gefilte fish which of course shows up around then. I am talking about housewares– all sorts- from dish towels and tablecloths to dishes and flatware and pans and pots. Suddenly, it’s impossible to forget that Passover is on its way.

Schools let out a full week before Passover. Why? Because all of the teachers need to clean too. There are all sorts of activities for children the week before Passover as their parents endeavor to find a place for them to be besides underfoot.

Yeshiva boys too stop their studies a week before Passover so they have plenty of time to do cleaning jobs to earn some extra money. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, they even show up when they said they will (mine disappointed me this year!)

Seder night, everything really is different. The street quiet down as everyone is having something of a seder, even those who would not consider themselves “religious.” The children, freshly scrubbed, enter into a new reality as they see their homes and their grandparents’ homes transformed for Passover.

But for me, the real highlight aside from hearing my just two year old granddaughter (she turned 2 on March 14!!!!!) ask the first of the four questions, was the first day of chol hamoed.

We drove up to Sachne (Gan HaShlosha) to drop off our son-in-law at the annual juggling convention. Sachne is a park with large beautiful deep ponds where the swimming is idyllic. The water was warm and the pond was almost devoid of people and we swam there feeling such happiness amid the verdant beauty. In the distance there were bougainvillea already in full bloom. There was the sweet sound of the waterfall downstream from us. It was perfect.

Of course Israelis love to get out into the country to enjoy nature on holidays. Only a week ago we too had been in a hike on a nearby mountain and we had enjoyed seeing the vast variety of wildflowers. However, that meant that going home was going to be something of a trial with the heavy traffic.

In the end, we chose to drive back through the Jordan Valley on a road we had not taken since the start of the most recent intifada. The trip was very pleasant. We looked over at the nearby villages in Jordan where the agriculture has developed notably in the past couple of years. We stopped at a service area and I was stunned to see TWO certified kosher for Passover restaurants! (in the middle of the wilderness).

We have lived lots of places. We have enjoyed all of them. But there’s no place like home.

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