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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We were slaves...

Today marks a dark day in most Israeli school kids' calendars:  It is the first day of Passover 'vacation'.

I can already hear the readers outside of Israel asking, "Passover vacation?  How can they be off already... Passover isn't until the middle of next week!  And why is it a 'dark day'... the first day of vacation is great, no?  What gives?"

Here's the deal.  As far as most Israeli families are concerned, the only reason the kids are off so far in advance of the holiday is so they can help their mothers... er, I mean parents...clean the house for Passover.  Of course, I can't say what's going on at anyone else's house today, but I promise you that as you read this, my kids are wishing they were still in school.

Everything (and I do mean everything!) is being taken out of their closets and drawers... clothes that no longer fit, or which are no longer wanted, are being put in bags for donation (or to be handed down)... and every square inch of their rooms is being dusted, vacuumed and scrubbed.  Windows are being washed and polished, and screens are being vacuumed.

And that's just the start.  When they finish their rooms, the guest room, bathrooms, and all the other rooms in the house will get the same treatment. 

Even the meals between now and Passover will be a reminder of their servitude.  You see, Zahava has stopped shopping.  That means pretty much all the meals for the next week or so will be prepared using whatever we have in the freezer, refrigerator and pantry.  Take my word for it; this makes for some 'interesting' menu combinations. By next Monday we'll be having pickle & sardine sandwiches served with canned olives and a side order of Basmati rice.  Dessert will be some sort of breakfast bar or fruit salad.

Obviously this business of turning over the entire house is as much about spring cleaning as it is about Passover (maybe more so).  But whatever the reason, Israeli children mark today as the beginning of their enslavement... and they know as sure as the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, only the arrival of the holiday commemorating our release from Egyptian bondage will truly set them free to enjoy their vacation.

Posted by David Bogner on March 31, 2009 | Permalink

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LOL. . .as many times as I say to myself "dust is not chametz" my poor kids have spent a miserable day spring cleaning their rooms. It has to get done sometime, I'm not doing it for them, and they have a freaking WEEK off of school before we even get to the holiday!

Posted by: Rachel | Mar 31, 2009 3:29:24 PM

Would love to be a fly on the wall in your house to see THIS! ;)

Wish you lived closer, so I could 'spring' them from their bondage! ;)

Posted by: val | Mar 31, 2009 5:00:32 PM

Can you lend them to me for a day or two?

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Mar 31, 2009 7:18:04 PM

I don't understand a) if you are doing a spring clean, why leave it so near to yom tov? b) why bother at all? i was giving (very premature) dating advice to my kids and said to the girls, "marry someone with lower standards of hygiene than you are used to." To which they said, "that would be difficult!" But seriously - how dirty can a house get if it is cleaned regularly - we don't take chametz upstairs, so we don't Pesach clean up there. When i get an occasional urge to sort out everyone's clothes, it would be in the winter holidays, when we aren't doing anything else anyway, or when the cupboards just don't shut any more. i can relate to the menus though. Today we had potatoes, baked beans and a crustless broccoli "quiche" which was surprisingly popular! i have also discovered enough dessert in the freezer for the whole Shabbos, which is great, and means that i can give all my unopened flour to our local Lechem Oni project (run by GIFT) who collect all the chametz, sell it over Pesach and then distribute it to people who need it after yom tov

Posted by: Mrs Belogski | Mar 31, 2009 9:42:51 PM

hey...I like that sandwich Idea....I'm gonna try it. Chag Kasher VeSameach

Posted by: shmiel | Mar 31, 2009 11:47:25 PM

i wish my kids were around to help. they end school the day before pesach. (apart from the eighth grader, he ends tomorrow, and he and his attitude will definitely be helping Ima out. actually he is a great kid)
i put them to work on Sunday - there was lots of groaning, but eventually their rooms were done and they even had fun with it. too much fun judging by the noise level.
as for food - i hate this last week prior to pesach. i am always hungry.

back to my cleaning - do the kids have to do your closet too Trep?

Posted by: Hadassah | Apr 1, 2009 12:28:16 AM

I am new in Israel, I work in IT (oracle database admin and app programming) with a fraction of the salary I could get elsewhere and I get one week off during Pessah while deadlines are closing in. I feel enslaved. This Pessah the taste of Maror will be extra strong for me. At least I got a Haggadah in Moroccan.

Posted by: Haifa Dave | Apr 1, 2009 12:57:32 AM

i like this day.
i may need to participate in this one.
:)

Posted by: weese | Apr 1, 2009 1:20:29 AM

Mrs. Belagosi: We are, this post not withstanding, actually very aware of the difference between spring cleaning and Pesach cleaning. We have a well-enforced and hardcore rule that NO food leaves our main floor (we have bedrooms on the upper and lower floors -- the salon and kitchen are the main floor).

The worry on the upper/lower floors isn't chametz, but if you are wondering how dirty a house that gets cleaned regularly can get... let's just say that between the occasional dust-storm in our neck of the woods, and the two large dogs prone to shedding....some of the dust kittens might actually be mistaken for a small (but filthy) child... (ugh!)

With regards to the not-allowing-food-to-leave-the-main-floor-thing... I made a rabbinical friend laugh so hard he cried a few years back.... 3 days after Pesach ended, he stopped by to borrow something. As I answered the door I saw Gili, then-aged-3, clutching a disintegrating peanut-butter sandwich in his hands well en route to his room.

"Where do you think you are going with that sandwich, Gili?" I demanded. "To my room to get my truck," he quivered. "You know that chametz isn't allowed in your room, Gili, right?" I countered.

At this point the Rabbi gently interrupted, "Ummmm.... You DO realize that Pesach ended 3 days ago?"

"Yes, but, it will be BACK!!" I roared, "It always comes back!"

Posted by: zahava | Apr 1, 2009 7:51:16 AM

Lots of moaning at our place as well, but--ahhh, love those clean rooms. And I have a child who actually GOT A JOB for this week! She and her friends are taking care of a bunch of little kids. Ezeh kef!

Posted by: Baila | Apr 1, 2009 8:26:27 AM

pickle & sardine sandwiches served with canned olives and a side order of Basmati rice.

Why everyone knows that this is a delicacy and a major treat....if you are homeless and haven't eaten in three weeks.

Posted by: Jack | Apr 1, 2009 10:34:56 AM

zahava --
yes, it does come back, except for cheerios, which never go away!

Posted by: nikki | Apr 1, 2009 11:37:25 AM

I would actually have to say that in our case, we the parents are more enslaved to our fulltime jobs - not necessarily by choice - and to the child-caregivers who take advantage of our situation to overcharge for these breaks. We do not reach vacation until the day of Erev Hag. It is the kids who enjoy far too much freedom with almost 3 weeks off for the Pesach holiday, they are actually happier to be home alone (cleaning? yeah, right) than to be in school!

Posted by: rachky | Apr 1, 2009 3:12:39 PM

for those of us with kids too small to clean their own room, the whole extra long vacation thing simply means scrambling for extra childcare and trying to figure out how to clean while watching a team of small kids. My strategy - hired local teens to clean and am childcare swapping with a friend.

Posted by: noa | Apr 1, 2009 3:37:29 PM

Ha! I just reread the title of this post, and got a bit bitter...

"We were slaves"

WERE?!

Granted my mood is more than a little blackened by having just spent 5.5+ hours up to my eyeballs in invoicing and administrative duties for the design studio....(ack! math! not -- really, really NOT -- one of my strengths!)....

Posted by: zahava | Apr 1, 2009 9:50:49 PM

Zahava - i didn't mean to impugn your standards of housekeeping! we have also been there with the Pesach coming back - it's always a lot of fun when you know you will be moving out of the house before next Pesach and can make crumbs wherever you like... When my oldest daughter was about 3 she was very upset to see my husband taking a piece of Pesach cake upstairs - don't you know you're not allowed cake upstairs?

Posted by: Mrs Belogski | Apr 1, 2009 10:09:39 PM

Zahava -- I laughed out loud at your first comment!! Thanks.

OK, so here is my real question: When my kids are home, they help clean for Pesach. But these crazy religious youth groups kidnap the kids for massa pesach!! How can they take away my best workers for a two day hike before Pesach?!?!

Do you tell your kids they can't go because they have to stay home and clean????

(feel free to email me your answers at: coffeeandchemo@gmail.com)

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Apr 2, 2009 2:10:51 AM

Aaahhhh Rivka with a capital A: Only one of our big kids opted for this year's massa pesach (she is enjoying it immensely as I type)....

I wouldn't dream of denying the kids this opportunity to see more of Israel and bond with their friends.

But. I am not above a bit of a scare-tactic to motivate them into completing essential tasks before the trip! We made it clear to Ari that if her room wasn't spotless, she couldn't go.

Needless to say, the exhausted child will be returning to a spotless room! :-)

@Mrs Belogski: not to worry... I didn't feel impugned at all! ;-)

Posted by: zahava | Apr 2, 2009 9:08:06 AM

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