If it’s spring, and sandstorms are in the air, it’s time to think of the festival of freedom.
Passover arrives on Friday, and, along with it, eight days of meals, menus to plan and hours to fill on those intermediate days.
But no worries, we’ve got you covered. Herein lie some great ideas for this Passover, from wines and where to find them to fun things to do that (hopefully) won’t be too crowded.
1) Get rid of your old clothes with Tel Aviv’s Autoseder, a municipal van that collects giveaway clothing and gives it to those who need it. Go online through Wednesday, April 16, to book a stop.
2) Want to drink some wine and do some good? Plant a grapevine through Wine on the Vine, an organization that allows for the virtual planting of grapevines in top Israeli wineries. For each vine planted ($18 per vine), you choose an Israeli charity to receive the majority of your donation. Just choose a winery, choose a cause and plant your very own grapevine in Israel. It’s also a good Passover gift.
The organization has also put together several wine tasting tours for the holiday, with pickup from hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
If you want to drink a really cool Israeli wine, try Jezreel Valley Winery’s Pét-Nat, short for Petillant-Naturel, a naturally bubbly rosé made with Granache rose grapes that ferment right in the bottle, eliminating the need for casks and corks. Jacob Ner-David, co-founder of Jezreel Valley Winery, said it’s often called the beer drinker’s wine; others call it the hipster’s champagne.
For now, Jezreel Valley is only selling their Pet-Nat wines in Israel through the winery and at several restaurants, including Tel Aviv’s Shila and Oasis, David Intercontinental’s Nomi and the Sheraton Hotel, as the 2,000-bottle batch is too small to export.
3) You can impress your fellow seder guests with inside information about haroset, the traditional seder food that mimics the cement used by the Israelite slaves to build the pyramids. Archaeologist and food historian Susan Weingarten traces the development of the ancient dish in “Haroset: A Taste of Jewish History,” published by Toby Press. Her academic but readable volume looks at the web of social, religious and cultural contexts that influenced this simple dish.
4) There’s a sweet little jar of haroset as well as some other treats in this month’s IsraeliBox, a new subscription box service that delivers a pink-tissued carton of surprises each month, with a range of five or six food items and clever, Israeli-designed tchotchkes, including at least one with a socially conscious message. “We curate the magic that is Israel we love in a box and send it to anyone who loves and misses it,” said co-founder Sharon Avis.
5) You think you’re cooking a lot for seder? Colel Chabad, founded in 1788 to provide financial and practical support to the then tiny Jewish community in the Holy Land, will be distributing seder meals for more than 22,000 people, making 11,000 salmon fillets, 7,000 chicken thighs and 9,800 almond cakes, with some 30,000 eggs and ten tons of potatoes.
Visitors can get a more in-depth sense of what Colel Chabad does at Pantry Packers, the Jerusalem distribution center where a visit includes a new exhibit displaying artifacts, stories and details about the organization, and the opportunity to pack food packages for needy families. Bar and bat mitzvah projects are available as well.
6) If you’re still looking for a different kind of Haggadah, pick up the Hebrew or English versions of the Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Erez Zadok, who take the Passover story and offer the original text alongside an adapted comic book version that enlightens the entire story. Available online and in local bookstores.
7) Need something to do for the whole family? Try the annual Kol HaOt Illuminated Haggadah Fair on Monday, April 22, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., this year at the Hutzot Hayotzer-Jerusalem Artists’ Colony. The theme is “Kol Hakolot – Songs of the Haggadah,” featuring a mass, Koolulam style singing of the Haggadah’s greatest hits. All ages and voices are welcome, and tickets to participate are available at the Fun in Jerusalem website.
The fair will also feature an exhibit of renderings of the seder songs “Had Gadya” and “Who Knows One” by avant-garde artist Eliahou Eric Bokobza, from his Eliahou Haggada, as well as an exhibit of the Lovell Haggada by artist Matthew Berkowitz, and the illuminated Haggadot by contemporary artists David Moss, David Harel, Ben Simon, Avner Moriah and Ya’akov Daniel.
8) Take in a movie at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, which is offering two tickets for the price of one during Hol Hamoed, the intermediate days of Passover. Features include recent Oscar winners “Roma,” documentary “RBG” and a “Bohemian Rhapsody” singalong.
9) Need a laugh? Orthodox Jewish American comedian Eli Lebowicz is performing in Israel over Passover, a first for the American comedian, who likes to say he’s really coming to Israel because his in-laws made aliyah last summer and other babysitters weren’t available. B’tum bum. Shows are April 22-24, including at Jerusalem’s First Station, Efrat and Beit Shemesh. For tickets, order here.
10) Check out the museums that are offering free entry during Passover, courtesy of Bank Hapoalim. The Israel Museum is displaying an early 19th century Passover plate that was recently returned to the museum after it was found at the nearby Yad Ben Zvi Institute, in addition to other Passover artifacts.
For kids and the rest of the family, there are other Passover activities, including drawing graffiti on the museum walls, dancing the Debka with the Machya Ensemble (two performances at day at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Youth Wing plaza), art workshops that include illuminating a Haggadah or pot painting, and a recycling workshop that turns plastic bags into bouquets of flowers (NIS 15 per person).
Just across the road is the Wild Pharaohs exhibit at the Bible Lands Museum, with juggling shows, virtual reality tour of Pharaoh’s burial chamber and deciphering hieroglyphs.
Bank Hapoalim has a list of the 30 museums it is sponsoring over Passover.
Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum also has special tours for families for Passover, including the walls of the Old City with the stories of the ancient times and a virtual reality tour that presents the city in 3D, a full color experience that shows what the city looked like thousands of years ago. For adults and archaeology experts, try the museum’s new exhibit, “The Mount,” which tells the story of the Temple Mount through modern times as well as a tour of the Kishle, part of Herod’s ancient palace that the British used as a prison.