Friday, March 19, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #125 - Pesah in the Aretz

Most surprising item bearing Pesah supervision: Keef Kef (the Israeli answer to Kit Kat)

Most convenient item bearing Pesah supervision: rice cakes

Most noticeably absent Pesah items: tea matzohs and Pesah cake mixes

Funniest item bearing Pesah supervision I’ve seen (so far): Shoelaces

In the coming days leading up to Pesah there are scheduled times to bring your cutlery and pots to kasher in huge cauldrons of boiling water. One in each neighborhood. Our date is next Thursday from 4 – 8 pm. Let’s do the math on this. 5 kids minus one husband plus as many baby bottles, chicken scissors, can openers and lemon zesters as we can carry together to a huge pot sitting atop (I’m guessing but I’ll let you know) a huge fire. Hmmmm. Sounds like an adventure!

Speaking of which
Bob and I have been Pesah shopping. A word about shopping in Israel. Somehow not all food is kosher to begin with. That said, most food we see is kosher but in order to determine whether or not it is parve or dairy we play a Where’s Waldo game of finding the hashgocha (label of kosher supervision) in Hebrew amidst what seems like a megilla of ingredients, nutritional information and promotional hype – also in Hebrew, of course.

Israeli’s are not big into distinguishing their products in this way – the tub of parve Elite Chocolate Spread is identical in every way to the tub of dairy Elite Chocolate Spread – save for the very tiny word ‘halvi’ hidden under the ingredients list.

It’s not just food
My kids Spongebob Shampoo is virtually indistinguishable from their Spongebob Conditioner.

Now, assuming the item is kosher, of known status (parve or dairy – we won’t even touch on Chalov Yisroel v. Clalov Nochri but know that dairy products in Israel, milk aside, tend not to be Chalov Yisroel… ), we now want to be sure it is kosher l’Pesah. Hmmmm.

I once had a guest bring me wine and apologize in advance if I didn’t think it was kosher enough. I looked at it – there were not one but two well-known stamps of kosher supervision on the wine. I looked at my guest. Two rabbi’s saw this wine before me and declared it kosher. Is that not enough? I was confused. He shrugged and said some of his hosts would only eat food supervised by a very specific rabbi. That said, one can better understand the tendency of food in Israel to bear several hashgochot at once. In essence:
These four supervisory bodies have each concluded that this product is kosher.

But now it’s Pesah and we have the crucial divide between Ashkenazim & Sephardim – the seemingly larger than life item known as kitniyot (legumes or just about any bi-product thereof).

Combine this with the tradition of multiple hashgochot and you are left holding a single item that simultaneously bears the following four labels:

Kasher l’Pesah (kosher for Pesah)
Kasher lo’l’Pesah (kosher all year but NOT on Pesah)
Kasher l’Pesah l’ochlim kitniyot (kosher for Pesah for legumes consumers)
Lo kasher l’Pesah (not kosher for Pesah)

But that’s not all!
Then there are the famous Pesah abbreviations. Corresponding to the list above, picture the Hebrew equivalent of

Thankfully we eat kitniyot

We’re busy checking rice, no time to check for lice!
Rosie is Shabbat Ima tomorrow for the second time. This time Barbara took it upon herself to advise the ganenet that Rosie will be bringing her own mitpachat (head covering) for the occasion. Because Rosie is not interested in pre-Pesah lice.

Crunch time
Pesah is not for another 10 days. We have time to search for tea matzahs, to clean the hametz, to check the rice, to kasher the cutlery, to ---
Hi, Mom, we're home for Pesah vacation! Can we have a snack?

Hag Kasher v'Sameah!

1 comment:

  1. "Will you be busy", is probably a under statement at this point....assume your next blog will be weeks from now? Good luck, I'm tired just thinking about you!!!!!