Israelis all over the country celebrated the end of the Passover holiday on Monday night, with some attending traditional Moroccan Mimouna celebrations and others rushing to bakeries for pitot fresh out of the oven.
As nightfall brought with it a cool respite from a day of winds and sandstorms, those who had eaten matza for a week welcomed the end of Passover.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took part in the celebrations, attending a Mimouna gathering in Or Akiva along with his wife Sara.
“Jewish people, eat and enjoy,” said the prime minister, echoing the traditional Arabic Mimouna greeting. “The Jewish people are moving from matza and bitter herbs to mufleta and honey.”
Netanyahu took a moment to thank the police for protecting vacationers during the holiday. He also made note of the serious accidents that had occurred during the week of Passover.
“I would like you to know about the pain that I feel for the families that lost loved ones in traffic accidents and for the Sariye family, which lost three of its sons in a tragedy off the coast of Ashkelon,” said the prime minister. He said he had urged the bereaved father, Hassan, to find the strength to overcome the disaster.
“Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are now celebrating the Mimouna. I call on all Israelis to drive home safely,” Netanyahu concluded.
Israeli politicians traditionally attend Mimouna feasts each year. Though the tradition to celebrate the end of the holiday with honey-covered pancakes called mufletot and other sweets is unique to North African Jewry, the Mimouna has become an Israeli holiday, with those who lack North African roots visiting friends’ houses to take part in the celebration.
Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said late Monday that though celebrating the Mimouna had become a “political necessity,” she was truly happy that the tradition had taken root in Israeli society — because those belonging to the culture from which it originated had been forced to leave many of their traditions behind for the sake of the Israeli melting pot.
“It’s a custom of happiness and sweetness, not another day of matzot or fasting, of which we have plenty,” Livni wrote on her Facebook wall, praising the North African practice. “Finally, an end to matzot.”