Dear Mom,

In one week, I’ll be home preparing for our Seder with you. In Israel, Passover cleaning is well underway. Shops are already storing away their chametz and placing matzah orders. Last week, my neighbors placed an order on the black-market brisket chain and asked if we wanted in. (Apparently the brisket market is competitive at this time of year.)

I’m looking forward to being home, but I’m sad to miss Pesach here. Back in February I went to visit Dvora in Rosh Ha’ayin. She brought me to the local spice shop to teach me about Yemenite spices, and while we were there she placed her Pesach order for dates, figs and raisins. This was in February! Before Purim!

In a few days, schools and most offices will close for close to three weeks, and the country’s food-scene will turn upside down. Italian restaurants will serve kosher-for-Passover lasagnas and pizzas; observant Jewish restaurant-goers will overdose on potato and egg concoctions. I can’t believe that I’m missing such a big-deal food chag in Israel. Wah! Why can’t I be in two places at once?

In Rosh Ha’ayin, Dvora taught me two incredible Yemenite bread recipes, but I kept pressing her about Yemenite Passover food. One of her family Seder traditions is homemade grape juice. She makes jugs of it the day before the Seder and serves it for kiddush. If we were to keep glasses flowing with fresh grape juice at our Seder, maybe things wouldn’t get so out of control. But what’s a family Seder without shots of slivovitz and drunken bursts into song?

While I’m missing the Israeli Passover experience, I know that being home will make up for the sadness. No matter how many outside traditions I experience, nothing can replace sitting around the Seder table with family. I think we should try Dvora’s grape juice recipe…because chasing slivovitz with gazpacho sounds pretty gross.

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon, but not looking forward to the lingering smell of gefilte fish. Hope you get it out of the way well before my arrival!

Love,
Shaina