An Israeli seder and tour during Pesach week

By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

JERUSALEM — We spent Seder night and the First Day of Passover at Kibbutz HaSolelim in the Galilee. This is where Dan, Michal, his bat zug (partner), and their adorable baby daughter Kerem live.

Like many kibbutzim, HaSolelim is now “privatized.” This means that members’ salaries are differentiated and gone are the communal dining rooms and children’s residences.

Some privatized kibbutzim, including HaSolelim, have sold off part of their land for private development. Our Airbnb rental was in one such residential development. The homes in the neighborhood were on the kibbutz but not part of the kibbutz business and social structure. Dan and Michal rent their home. They are not members of the kibbutz.

“Jude’s Upstairs in the Galilee” was a lovely brand-new two bedroom Airbnb rental apartment built over the owners’ home. It also doubles as an art gallery. Everything was brand-new and the highest quality. The kibbutz is easy driving distance to Haifa, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee. I highly recommend Jude’s Upstairs to anyone looking for a beautiful “off the beaten path” stay while they visit Israel’s northern communities.

Before the holiday we welcomed a special guest. Nivi Rahm, Tifereth Israel’s former Executive Director, came to visit. We all loved Nivi and, as you may remember, when she told me was resigning, the only reason I wasn’t upset was because she was returning to Israel to be closer to her children, grandchildren, and mother.

Nivi loves life in Israel and keeps very busy seeing her family, working part time, and participating in Israeli dance. Additionally, she has taken up basket weaving and she told us her apartment is filled with natural plant fibers she collects to weave her creations.

Our Seder was wonderful. If Dan and Michal were intimidated by our presence, they didn’t show it. They were welcoming, warm, and made us feel like members of their family. Since there were three children under two years old present, the Seder was appropriately child friendly. They are also excellent cooks.

The first day of Pesach was a treat. Dan and Michal put away the brisket, tzimmes, and matza balls, and grilled some chicken, steak, and kabob, instead. We had never thought about this type of meal for a holiday but will in the future. It was delicious!

On the way back to Jerusalem, we visited the artist’s colony in Ein Hod which was filled with Israelis who are on vacation during chol hamoed (the intermediate days of the holiday).

On Thursday we drove to Tel Aviv where we walked along the Mediterranean, visited Jaffa, and ate lunch at “Dr. Shakshuka.” Dr. Shakshuka is a famous Tel Aviv restaurant that specializes in….shakshuka!

Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish in which a tomato and pepper base is topped by a sunny side up egg. I had mine with chicken and Jeremy’s was cooked with merguez, a spicy North African sausage. The shakshuka was served with matza instead of pita because the entire restaurant is Kosher for Passover!

Elijah and Zev had schnitzel and, for the first time, french fries. Elijah, in particular, loved the french fries, grabbing one in each hand before happily wolfing them down. For his part, Zev has an affinity for hummus, also Kosher for Passover for those who eat kitniyot.

We are back in Jerusalem for Shabbat and the end of Pesach. Dan, Michal, and Kerem will be joining us during the day to say goodbye to Adina, Jeremy, Elijah, and Zev who leave Saturday night. Judy, Margalit, and I stay on into next week.

We wish you and your family a Shabbat Shalom and a very happy conclusion of Pesach.

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Rabbi Rosenthal is the retiring spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego. He may be contacted via [email protected]

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