Saturday, March 24, 2012

Kosher Clean-Up

Shalom, chaverim! I hope you all had (or are still having) a peaceful Shabbat. I'm posting this after sundown on Saturday, but it may still be Shabbat where you are, thanks to the time zone differences. It's been a lively week here in Nahariya, and it's about to get even more lively. Tomorrow we are off on another Ulpan field trip (our last, I believe). This time it will be to Jerusalem, where we will be visiting the Kotel (aka The Western Wall) and Yad Vashem, Israel's largest museum dedicated to the Holocaust. While Elul and I have visited the Kotel before, this will be our first trip to the museum. Everyone I've ever talked to says Yad Vashem is both fascinating and deeply moving, so I expect to react in the same way. The recent, dreadful murders in Toulouse, France, are a sharp reminder of the continual threat posed by anti-Semites and those opposed to the existence of Israel.

Hebrew lessons in Ulpan proceed apace. Honestly, I'm looking forward to the seventeen (!) day break for Pesach (Passover), which begins at the end of this week. I am so stuffed with Hebrew grammar and vocabulary that I now suffer from mental indigestion and verbal constipation. Still, there are plenty of funny moments in class, usually when some normal Hebrew word means something entirely different in English or Russian. Last week, gales of laughter erupted from the Russian contingent, when our teacher introduced the word for "post-dated check," in a discussion about banking and apartment leases. Phonetically, it came out as "check-dahooey." "Dahooey" is a funny-enough sounding word on its own for English speakers, but it also happens to be an extremely nasty word in Russian for an adult man's male organ!

Speaking of Pesach, we've noticed that the stores seem to be clearing away all sorts of things that aren't considered kosher for Pesach. On the one hand, it's a good time for us to stock up on all sorts of baking ingredients that are good for gluten-free cooking, like potato flour, corn starch, and so on. On the other hand, the store where we get our oatmeal in bulk isn't carrying any oatmeal until after Pesach.

Benny's Spice Store. Notice the obvious absence of oatmeal and Benny's (in green apron) stalwart refusal to stock it. The poor woman doesn't have a chance to get oatmeal and has turned her head away in despair, as a shop assistant attempts to calm her.
Furthermore, the candy shop where we get our Snickers bars won't have anymore bars until after Pesach, either. Oy, vey iz mir! Learned readers who are familiar with the intricacies of kashruth for Pesach, please comment and explain to me why poor old oatmeal and Snickers bars can't make the cut of being kosher for Passover.

Despite its festive and welcoming entrance, this candy shop has determinedly banned Snickers for Pesach.
Still, as man shall not live by Snickers alone, there are plenty of other options in Nahariya for dining choices. I was particularly attracted by the sign of my hairdresser, Eitan. Not only does he do hair, but his sign makes you think you'll be fed, too.

Hair. It's what's for supper.
 And then there are the signs that read like zen koans, i.e. "what is the sound of one hand clapping?"

The paradoxical nature of motion. Get your quantum mechanics and ciggies at one convenient location!
Finally, just in case you happened to forget about the strong Russian influence in Israel, here's a selection of vodkas to remind you.

Kremlin, Pravda, Nikita and Boom vodkas. One thing leads to another, capitalist lackeys! But first, let's raise a glass to our Israeli comrades in the spirit of international fellowship and cooperation.
Shabbat shalom, chaverim! And remember, if the images I'm talking about don't show up, go directly to my blog at .

P.S. Despite my promises to post pictures of the Purim party we attended (all alliteration aside), I must confess that when it actually came down to it, we had an acute attack of the middle-aged lame-o's. The party didn't start until 9 p.m., and that meant the party would be going on far too long past our bedtime. We declined at the last minute and have comforted ourselves by looking at Facebook pictures of the party, and by all reports, it was the best party the kibbutz had had in the last five years. To post pictures here, of a party we didn't even attend, would be even more lame. So I won't.

P.P.S. I've gotten a few responses to my "readers, please identify this strange animal" from last week's post. A man from New Mexico says it's one thing, a man from Nahariya says it's another, and a man from Las Vegas says it's something else entirely. Still, if you all email me your postal addresses, I will send you a postcard with a real Israeli stamp on it (!) to say thanks for trying to help. The mystery deepens!


  1. Hi there Selah,

    Thank you for your blog! I stumbled upon it a couple days ago as I was researching Nahariyah as a potential place to live when my husband and I make aliyah in a few years. I am really enjoying reading about your experiences.

    Btw, oats are one of the five leavened grains that are forbidden during pesach, along with wheat, spelt, barley, and rye. A grain is considered leavened (and therefore chametz) if it has been exposed to water for more than 18 minutes (the water stimulates the natural wild yeast on the grains to begin fermentation). So basically any grain that hasn't been supervised right from harvest may be chametz and requires a hechsher for pesach. You may be able to find KFP oatmeal cereals- these would have been processed in a way similar to matzah.

    Products that don't contain chametz but that are made in facilities or on equipment that use chametz may be considered forbidden because of cross-contamination. Also, things like snickers contain kitniyot which Ashkenaz Jews do not eat during pesach.

    Hope that answers your question. I look forward to reading more of your blogs! Shavuah Tov!

    1. Shalom, Anonymous! It's great to hear you're planning to make Aliyah in a few years, and especially to beautiful Nahariya. Thanks for the VERY informative information about forbidden foods for Pesach. I have learned, since opening this line of discussion with other olim who have been here for a long time, that Israel has both Ashkenazy and Sephardic ways of keeping kosher for Pesach. Apparently, the Sephardic ways are little looser and not as concerned about cross-contamination, so stores choose which practice to follow, making the whole thing even more confusing and idiosyncratic. But thanks again for the fascinating explanation!


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