You know that anxiety that comes from hosting a dinner party? Pre-Passover in Jerusalem, and, for that matter, all of Israel, is a bit like that, but it’s more like an entire country is over-the-top and the panic extends to almost every Jewish family. Participating in the Passover traditions, such as seder night, is in the upper-90 percentage range among Israel’s Jewish population.
Crazy as it gets, there is plenty to appreciate. This photo essay is a look at the lead-in to the holiday. A cacophony of chores, rituals, awareness, and nature combine to make a symphony of anticipation.
There is no question that spring is in the air. With apologies to those in more intemperate climes, Jerusalem is all buds-a-bursting glorious with everything flowering.
Is it wisteria, or are they lilacs? They leave one gawking at buildings to enjoy this all too brief early spring treasure.
When the wisteria blooms.
And the aromas from the budding orange trees and other flowering fruit trees are a sensuous reminder to say the Nissan blessing.
When the almond trees go from blossoms to fuzzy soft-shelled green almonds.
When the laundry is airing out tzitzit (ritual fringes) by the dozen.
When the house-goods store is pushing cleaning supplies. And cookware as well.
When the pastas go on sale.
When you can’t even give away your extra flour products.
When the Israeli Rabbinate makes sure you know this place is not making the switch for the week.
When you can’t walk into a store, shop, home with your sandwich.
When the mustard grass turns a mellow yellow and the silvery olive trees dance between them.
When the new 2018 collection of shuk-schlep bags arrives (almost as exciting as Fashion Week for the locals).
When the entire market is redolent of fresh garlic. Might not be spring new wines, but we get excited about different things.
When green beans and fresh scallions form abstract sprawlings in the bastot.
When produce crates become live street art.
When matzot are available everywhere (not to be taken for granted out in the wider world).
When the florists’ offerings bring spring right indoors.
Then it’s time to take your seat at the seder table.
Chag Passover Sameach to all who celebrate.
All images are © 2018 by Heddy Abramowitz