Quick clarification for an astute reader, L.T. who asked about Sephardic Jews eating kitniyot. Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazic Jews share the same Jewish legal system and the bulk of ritual observance and practice looks the same. Essentially the variances you will find between the two are similar to variances in regional cooking and to completely oversimplify for the blog, if the Jewish nation or parts of it takes on stringencies in their practice, these adopted customs can over time take on the significance of law. So Jews from Ashkenaz about 1000 years ago stopped eating things that either were mixed in with grains or could be mistaken for grain in order to ensure that they didn't accidentally eat chametz (made from grain) on Pesach. Over time this custom became obligatory. The Jews from Sepharad (Spain, Northern Africa) never developed those customs. Perhaps grains in their part of the world were stored differently. I don't know.
Speaking of kitniyot, not one single reader asked what our rats would be eating over Passover. I know. I know. Most people are trying to rid their homes of vermin and we are researching and seeking out Passover friendly options for ours. And no, the rats aren't obligated to keep Passover but since we can't own or even benefit from Chametz (leavened products) the week of Passover we can't own Chametz containing rat food or care for our animals using Chametz (which is a type of our benefiting from it, since the food sustains our rats ). And while there are loads of options for dogs, we weren't fortunate enough to find any for rats. Fortunately, those Ashkenazic ancestors of ours never adopted a custom
to treat kitniyot like actual Chametz, where you can't own or benefit
from it. The custom is just for us not to eat kitniyot, but ownership and benefit is a-o-k. So guess who will be eating kitniyot in our house? Yes, Oreo and Kitty.
The week before Passover is school vacation. It's my sense that teachers have a very strong union here. A spent her week at a backyard camp. I think she mostly enjoyed herself, but when I picked her up the first day she gave me an accusing look and asked "Did you know it would be kids in charge of kids?" Welcome to Israel. Its very commonplace here for 7th and 8th grade kids to host these little camps during school breaks. Essentially, for less than half of what you might pay a babysitter, your child joins a small group and gets entertained by teens for the week. It's the entrepreneurial spirit and really is a win-win for everyone.
I did a little backyard camp of my own in the form of two birthday parties. Both N and L had birthdays and I planned parties in the park. In the park, outside. . . what could go wrong? That's right, it poured. Fortunately, in the age of Whatsapp we had an easy reschedule for the next day. I planned a scavenger hunt for Lital's party where they had to find clues and then make a puzzle out of the pieces they found out at each stop. It was actually a lot of fun and let me tell you, I don't care how many ulpans you've taken. You haven't experienced Hebrew until you have 20, ten-year old girls shouting out questions at the speed of light.
Tonight we join friends for Seder and it feels good to be celebrating with the same friends we had Seder with last year. This is the first time in 4 years we are in the same spot on Seder night. These wandering Jews are finally finding a home. We have great plans for the week of Passover, travelling around the country. Hopefully I can give a little travelblog on the other side. And yes, we do have a pint of the "Charoset" flavored Ben&Jerry's sitting in our freezer. I'll let you know how that is too.
My parents shared second night (obligatory only outside of Israel) Seder with two of their closest friends for 40 years. I know my dad's absence at the table will be felt strongly this year.
Next year in Jerusalem.