View from Netanya

ELKAN’S VIEW 1st April 2015

With Pesach beginning on Friday night, Israel is gripped with pre-holiday fever. I arrived back on Monday evening, turned on my phone and was greeted by a message from Cellcom welcoming me and suggesting four places where I could hide the Afikoman!

Supermarkets are full of special offers, especially on the items needed for Pesach – wine, Mazot, nuts, new pots and pans. El Al were giving away Haggadot on some of their flights. My bank were kind enough to send me a bottle of good dinner wine, together with a Haggadah that celebrates the traditions of the Moroccan community. Even my group at Shomre Mishkal – Weight Watchers – are involved, with a series of suggested dishes for Seder night and a warning that one sheet of Matza is three points and so is a spoonful of Charoset!

The country is also very conscious of its less fortunate citizens. One of the great paradoxes about Israel, and something that the government has failed to address adequately in recent years, has been the enormous and growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Admittedly some of this is a problem caused by the crazy attitudes of the Charedi community but this is not the whole story. By the supermarket checkout yesterday was a box into which you could put things that you had just bought for onward transmission to those in need.

Being in Israel for Pesach is very special. Chol Hamoed is a holiday season and I’m looking forward to spending it with my children and grandchildren, going places and enjoying some of the wonderful experiences available in this Jewish state. Freedom is an essential part of human life, and we as a nation know this more than most. How appropriate then is the fact that the festival of freedom is so central to our magnificent religion.

I wish you all a very happy Pesach.