There are many differences between making Pesach in Israel compared to the rest of the world. One major difference is that there is only ONE SEDER instead of two. What was previously known as “the first night” is now the ONLY night which brings new meaning to “Why is THIS night different from all other nights?”
Time management for Pesach prep will also be a bit different. In Israel we don’t have a Saturday/Sunday weekend. Some have Friday off work so the weekend becomes Friday/Saturday. For those keeping Shabbos and used to having only Sunday to for errands, adjustments must be made. Take a good look at your schedule to find blocks of time during the other days of the week. Many stores will be open longer hours to accommodate shoppers but there are no 24/7 stores. If you previously had an urge to shop Walmart at 3:00 AM, I hate to break the news to you, but there are no 24/7 stores and no Walmart.
Speaking of shopping, one beautiful thing about living in Israel is that EVERYONE is preparing for Pesach. The stores display cleaning products at the ends of the isles. Pesach is the only holiday getting the publicity. The whole country is cleaning and shopping. The downside is the whole country is cleaning and shopping. Checkout lines are long. From entering the store to paying the cashier could be a three hour ordeal. I suggest planning multiple shopping trips instead of a big power trip. A word of advice, since you may be in the store for many hours eat before leaving and carry a water bottle in case of thirst.
There are some important things to be aware of in regards to the food items you will be purchasing.
- Product labeling. Those who don’t eat kitniyot you need to know that the size of the lettering informing you of kitniyot is so small, you may wonder if you need a vision check. If have a magnifying glass in your possession find it now. Items with kitniyot are on the same shelf with the non-kitniyot items. Sometimes the packaging looks identical and you must READ EVERY SINGLE LABEL in order to avoid mistakes. For kitniyot eaters, you’ve hit the jackpot. You can enjoy KLP popcorn and Doritos as well as restaurants serving KLP falafel.
Your favorite American brands may be available in some stores, but don’t count on it. There are plenty of Israeli brands equivalent to the mixes and pre-packaged products you may want. *disclaimer * you must read those labels carefully because of the kitniyot.
- Heksherim. There are many heksherim which certify a product kosher for year-round use, but don’t certify as kosher for Pesach. However the products with those heksherim that don’t certify KLP will generally have an additional heksher that is KLP, so you may find multiple symbols on the label this time of year.
- Product placement. Kosher for Pesach and non-kosher for Pesach will be next to each other on the shelf until Purim. After Pesach, be sure to check that the store has a certification saying the chometz was sold for Pesach. Look for a certificate displayed near the entryway to the store.
- Shopping bags. Bring your own reusable bags with you to the store. Plastic bags are 10 agurot per bag. One big change for a new Oleh will be bagging your own groceries. This is not a Pesach thing, but an all-year-round thing.
- Getting your groceries home. In the USA most people have a car and here many do not. In Israel buses are a way of life. If you don’t have a car and you have tons of groceries order a taxi, a common practice here. Another option is to pay extra for mishloach (delivery) offered by some stores where your groceries are delivered to your home. If you choose the mishloach option, some stores do not include the perishables as part of the delivery service, so check to see what the store’s policy is.
ORGANIZING YOUR HOME FOR PESACH
Once you have figured out when to shop and clean, the next big decision is where are you going to store your items. For the majority of dwellings, there will be a lack of storage space: no garage, no attic, no basement and often times no spare room. Many apartments have a machsan (storage room) so this could be an option. Take a good look around your home and figure out which cabinets or areas of a closet can be designated to store chometz items. There may be some re-arranging of the space, but it is only temporary until the holiday is over. If you move things around, send yourself an email with a detailed list of where things are to prevent the post-holiday “Where’s the….?”
After you have decided on which cabinets will be used for KLP items, plan some menus with the items in your pantry and freezer. Take an inventory and use it up. Make a list and use a magnet to post it on the fridge.
If you have children at home, they will be home from school more days prior to the holiday than what you are used to. Instead of being home a few days before the Pesach, they are home for a week or more. In some communities there are pre-Pesach camps. If this is of interest, don’t wait until the last second to sign up because space is limited.
Take time to map out a strategy. Consider how you will manage your time, do your shopping, and organize your home. Stick to your plan, and make adjustments as needed.
Chag Kasher V’Sameach.
Karen, TKK (The Klutter Koach)