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Making Pesach memories in IsraelFor children, Pesach is an amazing time of the year, a special holiday where they get to spend quality time with their parents and siblings. After the thorough cleaning and other preparations, everybody’s mind is free and the spirits of all are uplifted.
The Seder is a unique opportunity to sit around the table together and share insightful stories. Children are usually thrilled to be considered as important actors throughout the night and to be given such a distinguished role in the various steps of the Seder.
After the Seder nights, families most often go on exciting day trips together, where the children get to discover new places and activities and to spend some precious time with their parents who are often so busy during the rest of the year.
When you get to be in Israel to celebrate the Festival of Freedom, it gets even better. As the Haggadah comes to an end, we all say at the Seder “L'shana Haba'ah bi Yerushalayim” – Next Year in Jerusalem.
If you have not yet been in the Holy Land for Pesach, you might wonder what it is like there. We asked prominent people in Israel to share with us some of their memories of Pesach in the Holy Land.
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Pesach in the Moshav –Tali Sendovski, Winemaker at Golan Heights Winery
“I was born and raised in Moshav Nahalal in a big family. Pesach in Nahalal was always a fun holiday for me because our entire family sat together and we always had good food and good wines,” Tali stated. “At the end of the meal, we used to sing songs together.
“One year, just before Pesach, I rescued my house from fire,” she continued. “When I was about 12 years old, two days before Pesach, I was alone at home in my room when I smelled a strange smell. I went into the kitchen and saw fire coming out of the refrigerator. I turned off the entire electricity in the house and started to throw buckets of water to put out the fire. The kitchen was black and the refrigerator and the food in it was all ruined but still we were able to have a happy Pesach with a lot of singing.”
Today, Tali works at the Golan Heights Winery, producing world-class wines that will grace Seder tables all around the world. Click here to see her Pesach wine recommendations.
Traditions, with a Dutch twist – Chaim Meyers, Director of the Western World Region at Naale Elite-Academy.
“As far as I can remember, Pesach was always a special holiday for me,” he recalled. “I have clear memories of every single step leading to the holiday and the age-old traditions we recalled and performed in my family left a remarkable impression on me, until this day.”
“Pesach started with eating out for a week before as my mother had everything cleaned for Pesach ages before,” he continued. “Then there was the exciting search for chametz with my father, after having hidden ten pieces of chametz in the house. I very much enjoyed burning the chametz with my father, right in front of our house.”
“At the Seder, I was the youngest at the table and was privileged with the great “honor” of singing Ma Nishtana,” he added. “At the end of the evening, I have vivid memories of my sister and myself hiding the Afikoman and then getting our father to search for it. By us, the matza was kept in a special ceramics Matza box I made. My family is Dutch and there is a Dutch thing to eat Matza together with butter and sugar. Really delicious!”
Chaim grew up to share the magic of Pesach in Israel with teens from all around the world at the Naale Elite Academy, a full scholarship high school program. You can see Chaim in action at the Naale Elite Academy website (scroll down to see his video).
A special time of abundance – Tami Shelach, Chairwoman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization
“Pesach is the Spring Holiday and in the Land of Israel, it is characterized not only by a change of the weather but also by a change of clothing,” Tami stated. “We always knew that our parents were going to buy us new clothes and new shoes in honor of the holiday.”
We lived with limited financial resources, Rosh Hashana and Pesach were the only times of the year where we got to get new clothes and shoes,” Tami recalled. “New clothes really were a luxury. So Pesach was even more festive for us. Our whole family gathered. My main role was to sing Ma Nishtana. I am the eldest child in the family and in virtue of this, I had the privilege to sing that song alone over the course of several years. All the people around the table were looking at the young girl, standing on her seat, singing ‘Ma Nishtana HaLaila Haze’ – ‘what was different on that night?’”
“After that “moment of glory,” my father went to hide the Afikoman and I followed him to try and guess where he was heading in order to hide it,” she continued. “A prize was awarded upon finding the Afikoman. I dreamt about that prize for many weeks before the Seder and my heart was overfilled with joy when I asked for it and received it. Up until today, the Afikoman is the jewel of the crown on Leil Haseder and, obviously, the songs and the clothes as well.”
Today Tami works with the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization, providing support for the families of Israel’s fallen heroes. This year their annual Pesach camp will once again be helping these orphans create their own happy Pesach memories despite their personal tragedies. See for yourself on the organization’s website.
This year as you sit at the Pesach Seder, create your own memories and treat yourself to really proclaim "L'shana Haba'ah bi Yerushalayim" (Next year in Jerusalem).
Pesach kasher V’sameach! L’Chaim!
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