Passover is a prominent festival of Israel and is celebrated with great devotion. Explore the article to know about Israeli celebrations and traditions of Pesach.

Passover in Israel

Jews around the world celebrate the spring festival of Passover with great mirth and fervor. The holiday commemorates the exodus of Hebrews from the slavery of the ancient Egypt. This event is recounted with a special meal called Seder. Though the festival is observed for eight days outside Israel, Passover here lasts for seven days, each of which is spent in a spirit of celebration. Israel has been historically related with this festival as Jews fled from Egypt and entered Israel. In Israel, the first and last days of Passover are public holidays and the days in between is a wonderful time for families to take vacations and day trips. As a result, the celebrations for Passover continue through all places across Israel throughout the entire period. While some events are religion based, the others are designed for kids and families which mean there is a great deal of fun on offer in Israel during the Passover. Continue reading through the following lines to know more about Israeli celebrations and traditions of the Pesach holiday.

Passover Celebrations In Israel
  • Traditionally, Passover was one of the three Shalosh Rigalim or Pilgrim Festivals. It was mandatory for all Jews across Israel to travel to Jerusalem as part of the pilgrimage, which is not very prevalent today. In modern times, various other traditions have developed. The Passover holiday begins with vacations commencing for schools right from elementary to high school. This week is utilized by the family for traveling all across Israel and viewing its breath-taking incredible geography. Many people even opt for visiting Eilat, the southernmost city in Israel, for a resort holiday.
  • The Seder table is traditionally set incorporating some of the finest place settings and silverware. All the family members gather at table dressed in their holiday clothes. Conventionally, it is essential for the person who leads the Seder to wear a white robe called a kittel. For the first half of the Seder, each of the participants require only a plate and a wine glass. At the head of the table, a Seder Plate is placed which contains several symbolic foods to be eaten or pointed out during the course of the Seder. A plate with three matzot and dishes of salt water for dipping is placed nearby.
  • The Jews restrain from eating bread for the entire Passover holiday. On the morning before the first Seder, family and friends unite to get rid of all chamtez by burning it. Watching the entire neighborhood gather and performing this special 'mitzvah' is a wonder to watch in Israel. Apart from removing all bread and products containing yeast, even stores keep away from selling bread or bread products during the entire week of Passover. Communities with a large non-Jewish population, such as Druze, Bedouins and Christians are exception to them as they are allowed to sell bread products.
  • All the participants are given a copy of the Haggadah, which is often a traditional version: an ancient text that contains the complete Seder service. Both men and women are equally obliged and eligible to take part in the Seder. However, in some homes, each of the participant sitting at the Seder table recite at least some of the critical parts of the Haggadah in the original Hebrew and Aramaic. The critical parts of Haggadah are often recited in both Hebrew and the native language so that all the participants can understand. The leader will often interrupt the reading to discuss some of the points with all the family members, or to offer a Torah insight into the meaning or interpretation of the words.
  • The 'mitzvot' associated with Passover have two different interpretations: the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic. Each of them, over time, has developed its own set of Jewish rituals and customs for celebrating Passover. While the Sephardic Jews can eat 'kitniyot' (legumes), the Ashkenazi Jews do not. However, due to the melting pot society prevailing in Israel, most of the differences have merged and now, most of the families have different ways of observing the festival. To your surprise, you can notice that public transportation stops from the afternoon before the first Seder and on the night of Passover the streets get emptied.
Several events take place across Israel during the Passover holiday, and with spring in the air the Passover becomes a great time to visit and enjoy the festivities there.