This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘Passover’

Passover Is Coming….

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 31, 2015

Passover is coming...

One of the signs of Passover is green garlic in the shuk. I’ve seen piles of garlic, braids of garlic, but I’ve never seen it as it is delivered! Layers of garlic bulbs are stacked in a cube and wrapped with nylon netting. That must be quite a trick!

Photo taken in Mahane Yehuda, while rushing to Nahlaot.


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Pattern: Filet Crochet Matzah Cover

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 24, 2012

Matzah Cover

Matzah Cover Pattern

To download a full-sze version of the chart, click the image above. On the Flickr page, right-click the image and choose Original. Click the Download link and save to your hard drive.

The matzah cover design is 11.5 inches high and 12.5 inches wide, at a gauge of 6 squares per inch. I don’t recall what thread or hook I used, but they must have been fairly fine. Mine was designed to cover a 3-compartment matzah holder for square machine-made matzah. Of course, a fabric backing or matzah holder is optional, but it gives the cover a nice finish.

The chart is 96 squares high and 85 squares wide.

Matzah Cover, 1873

And for a little visual inspiration, here’s an embroidered matzah cover, surreptitiously photographed at the Israel Museum. It is designed to cover large round matzahs. The triangular tabs at the bottom, labeled “Kohen,” “Levi,” and “Israel” for the three matzahs representing the three parts of the Jewish people, are attached to layers that divide three compartments. The name embroidered below the crown is Avraham Shtern-something. I can’t quite make out the last two letters after the resh. Probably polychrome silk on silk satin, although I can’t swear to it because I’m going by a photo, not the actual artifact (and they’re not likely to allow me to handle the fabric, in any case). It’s almost certainly professional work, judging by the materials, the gold bullion letters, and the stones set in the crown. The ruffled lace edging looks like chemical lace.

Matzah cover

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Burning Chametz

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 6, 2012



I took these photos this morning of the burning of chametz. Something about fire fascinates kids. They don’t seem to mind the heat (and it is hot today!).

We burned the last of the leavened food around 10:30 this morning. It’s tough coming up with interesting menu ideas when you have a bunch of house guests, can’t eat bread, cakes, rice, legumes, or matzah (our custom is not to eat matzah for the month leading up to Pesach in order for it to be more special when we have it), and the thought of one more potato makes you sick…..

Breakfast menu, day of Seder:

  • Leftover chametz (as long as it’s before the cut-off time, which is 10:09 this year, according to our custom)
  • Cheese slices
  • Rice crackers
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Lunch menu, day of Seder:

  • Tuna salad with lots of cut up vegetables in it
  • Vegetable salad
  • Potato-kohlrabi kugel (I didn’t have enough potatoes for a kugel, so I added a large kohlrabi; it was really good)
  • Cheese slices


The whole neighbourhood smells like a forest fire, which makes drying the laundry a bit problematic. Oh well, no one’s going to notice a bit of smoke on their bath towels, right?

Ever wonder what 750 grams of horseradish looks like? A caterer friend had some extra and was giving it away. I thought she’d give me a couple roots but her husband handed me the whole lot. So I’ve dried it, wrapped it in newspaper, and put it in the back of the fridge, for when I have more time.


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Bedikat Chametz

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 5, 2012

Bedikat Chametz

The evening before the Seder, we perform the ritual of bedikat chametz (Search for Chametz), searching our house for chametz (leavened food) using candles and flashlights. I wrapped ten pieces of cake (normally we use a pita but I threw out the last one while cleaning the freezer) and my son distributed them around the house.

This piece took us a long time to find. He attached it to the pull-chain of the ceiling fan. 🙂

I didn’t take the photo then and there. We recited Kol Chamira and I asked him to re-attach the foil-covered cake to the chain.

We’re getting there — the end is in sight! The kitchen has been switched over and I did a lot of cooking today. I am so glad we put an air conditioner in the kitchen. The dish kashering station is right outside my building and the sound of religious pop music and propane torches has been non-stop for a couple days now. (On the other hand, I am very glad not to have that job! Torching oven racks and boiling dishes must be horrible in this sharav ( “scorchingly hot, dry desert wind which blows from the Arabian Desert from May to mid-June and from September to October. It last for two to five days at a time” on this site).

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Passover: Almost There!

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 18, 2011

I was hoping to post my Hula Valley photos, but things have gotten rather busy at home, with Passover starting tonight (Monday, April 18) and my mother-in-law staying with us (keeping her occupied and drinking enough water is a job in itself). So I’m posting a few of my daily photos of the preparations.

April 15: Cupboards clean, marked, and stocked. The whiteboard markers have been so useful, because later I marked what was where (meat cutlery, milk cutlery, pans, etc.). It’s great because not everything is in its usual place and because it makes it easier for my mother-in-law to find a spoon when she wants a cup of tea. My kitchen doesn’t look very attractive but it makes it a lot easier to tell my son or husband where to unload the shopping.

Passover countdown

April 16: Sinks and counter kashered after Shabbat. That’s when we discovered that the electric urn we use to keep water hot over Shabbat and Yom Tov died. Well, better before the holiday than during it! Another item on the shopping list….

Freshly kashered drain

April 17: We love close to the local mikveh (that’s our flat on the top of the building on the left, in the background). It gets really noisy when they set up the stands for kashering dishes in our neighbourhood. All day long you hear blow torches, boiling water, clattering dishes, and loud hassidic or Sephardi music (can’t really blame them — it’s a terrible job in brutally hot weather). People bring dishes to switch over to Passover by boiling or burning with a torch. New dishes, not made in Israel, are dipped in the mikveh (that’s what the man is doing at the top of the short flight of stairs on the right). The weather has been very hot for the past couple days. It’s supposed to start cooling tomorrow.

Preparing dishes for Passover

April 18: Day of the seder. We burn leftover chametz (leavened food, like bread, cereals) in the morning. What a reek. I scalded my right thumb this morning kashering the microwave but it’s feeling a little better now. I can type on a keyboard but focusing my camera for this photo was a challenge because I’d set up my camera for back-button focusing. There is an adult supervising to make sure the chametz gets burned.

Burning Chametz (leavened foods)

Well, time to get lunch started. I’m happy to report that this year I managed to get proper meals served regularly and didn’t order in a single pizza or eat outside the house! Seder cooking is done.

I’m getting tired of potatoes…. Check with me in a week and I’ll be whining about how tired I am of matzah. 🙂

Everyone, have a kosher and happy Passover!

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Marking My Cabinets… Passover Countdown!

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 10, 2011

Marking my cabinets with whiteboard markers!

When I was looking through a drawer for scissors I found a couple red and green whiteboard markers. Eureka! I marked my kitchen cabinets with chametz (for the non-Passover dishes), TBD (= to be done, i.e., cleaned for Passover), and Pesach (already clean for Passover). I have to confess to feeling a sense of accomplishment at wiping away most of the TBDs tonight and writing Pesach. It also gives my husband a place to put the Passover groceries that we’ve started buying. I’m hoping that the red/green colour will also help my mother-in-law distinguish between the cabinets (she arrives this Thursday for a two-week visit).

I started Pesach preparations last night (seriously!), by packing away baking dishes, spices, non-Pesach food, utensils, pots, etc. Tonight I marked the cupboards, cleaned them (except for a couple that still have odds and ends), and washed the dish rack cabinets and some of the dirtier sections of wall and fridge. Haven’t started the appliances or heavy cleaning yet but I’m not worried because I have a strapping, very helpful teenage son coming home in a couple days! He’s great at doing the heavy cleaning, lifting, and anything that requires a long reach. I’m really grateful for the time I have him around to help — he won’t be so available when he starts his army service.

Last week my husband and I went for a short break to the Hula Valley area up north. Will post bird and critter photos later! It won’t be tomorrow, though, because I have a department fun day with coworkers and won’t be home until late.

P.S. For heaven’s sake, don’t try this on anything other than plastic laminate-covered cabinets! I do not want to be responsible for ruining your oak, steel enamel, corkboard, or whatever. Test on the inside of a cupboard where it won’t show and make sure that you can get the whiteboard marker off. Mine comes clean with window cleaner.

Another tip: Beach Boys CDs make Pesach scrubbing much more tolerable.

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Survival in the Matzah Wilderness

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 4, 2010

Yesterday we took a wrong turn and got lost in the matzah wilderness. We trekked for hours in the blinding sun, across the barren, flat sheet of matzah with no water in sight. Suddenly, the plateau came to an end. We stood on the edge of a high cliff, looking into a deep ravine below. Matzah Canyon! (Insert spine-tingling  music here)

Oh no! How will we ever get across?

Matzah Cliff

We followed a wild goat trail along the edge of the cliff. Slowly we made our way down the cliff face, clinging to the sharp crumbly edges until we reached the bottom of the canyon.

Descent into Matzah Canyon

At the bottom we had no choice but to follow the canyon’s route. Although we had hours of  hiking along the bumpy, crumb-strewn canyon floor ahead of us, at least it was shadier than the plateau above.

Matzah Canyon

Is it my imagination or are the walls of the canyon getting smoother and less steep? Could we be approaching the mouth of the canyon? And … what’s that blue I see in the distance?

End of Matzah Canyon

It’s the river! We’re saved!!!!

Matzah River

Photos taken with Canon PowerShot S5 in macro mode. Plot loosely based on a disastrous hike many years ago on which Baruch and I ended up engaged, although we could easily have ended up dead. But we didn’t, so here I am photographing matzah instead of eating it. 🙂


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When You’re Tired of Eating Matzah….

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 4, 2010

… you can always photograph it!

Here we have an aerial view of a matzah desert with two volcanoes in the center. Towards the end of Passover one really does feel like one is crossing an endless expanse of matzah. (Canon PowerShot S5, macro setting.)

Matzah Landscape

These shots are more typical photos of matzah, on a crocheted matzah cover that I made years ago. Also taken with a Canon PowerShot S5.



Just for the record (because I know someone will ask), here is the matzah cover itself. It’s my own design. The crocheted panel is tacked at the corners to a blue satin “envelope” with three compartments for the three matzahs that are used at the Seder.

Crocheted matzah cover

Tonight is the beginning of the last day of Passover. Time for me to get back into the kitchen.


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Countdown to Seder

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 29, 2010

Bi'ur Chametz (Burning the last of the leavened food)

Now we really are on the home stretch! This morning we burned the last of the chametz, around 11 a.m. My husband’s dried out lulav (palm branch) and hadass (myrtle branches), left over from last Sukkot, are burning on top of a few pita breads. There are several fires in our neighbourhood. People will be coming and going for a few hours to bring the last of their bread and crackers to burn. A few stalwarts will stand around until the end, to make sure that all the bread is burned completely and the fire doesn’t spread.

My home is completely ready for Passover. All the old dishes have been put away, the oven and stove and counter are ready, the fridge has been cleaned and stocked with food for Passover, vegetables and fruits are washed and rebagged, table cover changed. Most of the cooking has been done. Because we eat so much matzah and maror (lettuce) and charoset during the Seder before we get to the meal itself, no one is all that hungry, so I keep the menu simple. I’m baking apricot chicken at the moment.

We had one small mishap this year — my son accidentally bought a parsnip instead of a horseradish. I told him it looked like a white gnarly carrot and forgot about the fact that our minimarket sometimes sells parsnips (called a “white carrot” in Hebrew). Fortunately, there was still time to send him back to the store.

Here’s a “sort of” recipe for Sephardi-style charoset. I call it Sephardi-style because it’s my own version and I’m not Sephardi, and it’s different from the usual Ashkenazi charoset made with raw grated apple, walnuts, and sweet wine. It’s not very photogenic but here’s a picture anyway.


Sephardi-Style Charoset

Makes about 1 cup

8 large, juicy dates; pitted
1/4 cup red wine (I use dry because that’s what we have around the house)
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground ginger

This is very much a “too taste” recipe. If it’s too thick, add more wine. If it’s too thin, add a couple more dates or cook longer. Increase the nuts if you want. Just remember that it needs to be a thick paste.


Simmer the dates with red wine in a small pot, mashing from time to time with a spoon, until smooth and thick. Let the mixture cool.


Chop the nuts in a food processor. Fold nuts into the cooled date mixture. Chill.

A kosher and happy Passover to everyone!


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More Passover Preparations

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 28, 2010

Seder night is tomorrow! Tonight we do bedikat chametz (checking the whole house for leavened foods) when it gets dark. In the meantime, I’ve been doing little else other than preparing for the holiday with all the cleaning and shopping to be done. Fortunately, I have a strong teenage son to help with the heavy work while my husband is at his new job.

Can you believe that this is what my kitchen looks like now? Everything has been put away or cleaned. Last night, after Shabbat finished at 7:32 p.m., I scrubbed the counter, cupboards, drawers, and taps, so this is the only photo I had time to take. Tonight, after bedikat chametz, my husband will kasher the counter and sinks with boiling water.

Preparing for Passover

The kashering stand outside my house was in full swing today, so I sent my son down with the stove grates and kiddush cups. The service is provided by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. There’s no set payment but there is a voluntary donation. People have been lining up since 9 a.m., with their pots, pans, cutlery, and other metal things that need to be dipped in boiling water or heated with a blow torch.

Kashering Dishes for Passover

A father and daughter are toiveling (dipping in the mikveh) new dishes.

Kashering Dishes for Passover

Student volunteers from local yeshivas immerse the pots in boiling water. Afterwards the pot is dipped into cold water on the left. It’s not pleasant work, working in the heat and noise from the propane torches. I heard the torches in my flat starting at an early hour and I will hear them until this evening.

Kashering Dishes for Passover

Kashering Dishes for Passover


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