As an Ashkenazic Jew I feel that our big celebration of Passover comes at the beginning of the holiday when we participate in the Seder ceremony. Usually, to break Passover and eat bread at the end of the holiday, I typically remember going to Italian restaurants or ordering pizza. It wasn’t very extravagant. However, as a converting Sephardic Jew (sorry mom but I always new I’d needed something a bit more ethnic :-p) I discovered that the end of Passover can be just as celebratory, if not more so, than the beginning.
Sunday afternoon, around 2, before the Chag (holiday) officially started, Stephane’s mom decided to take us into Ashdod early so that we could run some errands before everything closed down. Really it was one special errand that we wanted to do… GET MY RING SIZED!!! We went to the first shop (a friend of her family that owned a Jewelry store) but they had already closed down for the holiday. We went to another place, but they too had closed down early for the chag. Finally, we decided to give one more place a try, just to see, and to our surprise the shop was open and only just beginning to close down. We hurried in, discovered that the owners knew Stephane’s grandparents, they gave us a fantastic price, and in about 20 minutes my ring was ready to be worn on the correct finger! It was a lucky day 🙂
After we sized the ring it was still a bit too early to go to Stephane’s grandparents house, so we killed some time by going to visit one of his cousins at his house in Ashdod. It was at this cousin’s house that we spent the night last time we were in Ashdod, and we were hoping to secure a spot there this time around too. However, Stephane’s aunt had her two brother’s in town for the chag so to our dismay there was no room for the four of us to sleep (Stephane, his mom, little brother, and myself). Luckily Stephane has a family of 9,000,000 so his mom didn’t seem too worried about securing accommodations for later. We schmoozed a bit, had some food, and then it was time to head off to the grandparent’s house for the last dinner of Passover. When we arrived many of the aunts and cousins were already there helping cook and set up, so naturally, Stephane and I were put too work. Between setting tables, catching up with relatives, and Stephane’s grandparents trying to convince us to get married already (next year according to his grandmother, and next week according to his grandfather), it was quite eventful! We enjoyed a fantastic meal, FINALLY found a cousin who lent us her house for the night, ate until we couldn’t move, and then headed back to Ashdod to catch a few hours of sleep before the real celebrations began.
The next day we woke up around 11am to a warm, but very yucky day outside. There was a huge sandstorm that blew in from Egypt so we could hardly see in front of our faces. Stephane said the haze was caused by all of the smoke due to the fact that everyone in Israel BBQ’s on this day :-). We walked from the house that we slept at to his other cousin’s house to start preparing for the Mimouna celebrations. But, of course, before any preparations were done, we were fed until we exploded. Meats, and salads, and more meats, and more salads, and wine, and alcohol… It was toooooo much! After lunch everyone was in a food coma so we all found respective spots in the house and fell asleep instantly. Stephane and I must have been out of it for so long because by the time we were roused from our rest the holiday was almost over, and it was almost time for Mimouna to begin.
For those of you who do not know, Mimouna is a typical Moroccan Jewish celebration that is held at the end of Passover, marking the beginning of Spring, and the return to eating chametz (bread, grains, and all the goodies we weren’t allowed to eat during Passover). Basically it is another excuse to eat a crap load of AMAZING food. When Stephane and I ascended from the upper floor of the house, we found that a gorgeous table filled with treats had already been set for the event. There were sweets, candies, pastries, jellies, nuts, fruits, more sweets, and each dish looked more delicious than the next.
When it was FINALLY the end of the holiday, we did Havdallah (the prayer you do at the end of a holiday), did Kiddush (blessing over the wine), and Stephane’s aunt and mom started preparing the staple dish of any big Moroccan celebration. Muflettas!!!! Muflettas are a bread dish that is usually served with Honey or butter (Stephane likes it with Nutella), and is one of the most delectable things I have ever tasted! I couldn’t stop eating them!
During Mimouna it felt like the whole of Ashdod passed through Ariel’s house (Stephane’s cousin); people were coming in, eating, saying hello, leaving, running around, and it was a complete mad house! Not to mention that every house in the area was playing Arabic music. I was in heaven. It was so much fun, but by the end I had eaten so much I literally wanted to throw up. On top of that I contracted a nasty cold from my loving boyfriend so I was not feeling so happy by the end of the night… I forgot to mention I had work the next morning at 8am… At around 10 we left Ariel’s house, headed back to the grandparents house to pick up Stephane’s little brother, and then made our way back to Tel Aviv. It was a perfect holiday, and I had the most wonderful time. The more time I spend with Stephane and his family, the more I fall in love with the culture, celebrations, and everything else that comes with being an Arab Jew (as I like to call him). Basically I’m just happy to finally have a boyfriend who not only doesn’t mind when I play my Arabic music, but actually enjoys it with me! Perfection!
Stay tuned for my next post on my good friend Sarah’s engagement party in Jerusalem, and my first day as a shift manager at work!
Until we meet again <3,