Hi y’all. Been a while. My apologies.
See, about two weeks ago, my classes stopped for passover break. Around the same time, my best friend in the world showed up. Around the same time, my classmate Jake and I published the 2017 Hamilton Haggadah, and it got a pretty awesome reception. So, well, life didn’t feel the least bit normal, and before I knew it two shabbats had come and gone, and nary a word from me.
The good news is, life is good. So let’s start out with blessings from week 31 and 32.
For week 31, I leave you with 3 consecutive sunrises and sunsets. I’ve seen a lot of amazing sunsets here. I’m not usually up early enough to witness sunrise, but two weeks ago, shortly after we moved to daylight savings time, I had occasion to be up at 6:30. There are a number of things I won’t miss about living in Israel, and truth be told I find my thoughts on the States quite a lot these days. But this place is stunningly beautiful. I will miss these sunsets (and occasional sunrises) and the ability to be by the sea at a moment’s notice.
Week 32, this last week, included much of Passover. Here in Israel, the holiday will end just before 8 PM tonight. I’ll be honest in saying that it’s felt a good deal less intense than in years past. Part of that is because it’s a day shorter. In the United States, I celebrate Passover for 8 nights. In Israel, I celebrate for 7 (most holidays are a day shorter here than in the diaspora). The main reason, though, is that Passover’s food restrictions here are different than in the states. Most Ashkenazi Jews (people whose ancestry is Germanic and Eastern European) avoid two categories of food during Passover: chametz (grain) and kitniyot (things that are/were historically stored near grains– like legumes, corn, and rice– and therefore could get grains mixed into them). That’s been my practice for years, which means that Passover usually means trying to find adequate nutrition and sources of protein that aren’t legumes. Most Jews in Israel don’t avoid kitniyot, however, and in the interests of experiencing an Israeli-style holiday, I opted this year to avoid kitniyot at home but to eat them at seder and while out and about. What this meant was that suddenly the trickiest foods to avoid, corn and soy, ceased being a problem and eating became much easier. So, while I’ll be happy to be able to go back to a non-Passover diet tonight, it’s less of a relief than normal.
This week’s blessing was the fulfillment of the last words Jews say at the conclusion of the Passover seder: לשנה הבאה בירושלים–l’shana haba’ah b’yerushalayim-– next year in Jerusalem. Based though I am in Tel Aviv now, I made it to Jerusalem for seder with friends from last semester. Generally, I take the “next year in Jerusalem” bit more symbolically than geographically, but there was something cool about spending a seder in that city.
I have a lot more to share, and I have a few more days before heading back to class, so expect more regular posts coming your way, but I want to get these up now before I end up with 3 weeks of shabbat blessings to post all at once!
If you are celebrating Passover, I wish you the best in the next day or two before its end. If you just celebrated Easter, I hope it was wonderful. And, if you are simply celebrating spring, may you continue to do so. Despite the world’s rough patches, there’s a lot to appreciate out there right now.