- Title: MIDDLE EAST: Israelis make last minute preparations for the holiday of Passover
- Date: 18th April 2011
- Summary: ULTRA ORTHODOX JEWISH BOY
- Embargoed: 3rd May 2011 13:00
- Location: Jerusalem, Israel
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVAB262T6N1ML267Z8XVQGDGWAYN
- Story Text: Israel sells all leavened foods to non-Jews for the duration of the Passover holiday, as factories producing matzahs work overtime to meet demand.
Israelis made last minute preparations on Sunday (April 17) for the holiday of Passover, celebrated this year on April 18th.
Factories around the country have been working 24-hour-days in order to produce enough matzahs, specially prepared unleavened crackers eaten by all religious Jews during the seven-day holiday instead of regular bread.
"This is a tradition since the exodus of Egypt, that our forefathers didn't have any time to let the dough rise, and therefore it's a Jewish tradition that every year in Passover time we eat no bread, and not other bread derivatives. We eat only unleavened breads, which is called also matzah," explained Roi Wolf, VP for Matzot Aviv, one of Israel's largest and oldest matzah companies.
According to Wolf, matzahs are made of finely ground flour made in a special process not involving liquids. After the flour is ready, it is mixed with ice cold water, in order to prevent it from rising, and then quickly baked. The entire mixing and baking process mustn't last more than 18 minutes, in order to ensure the dough will not rise and the final product will not be considered "hametz" (leavened).
Apart from refraining from eating leavened foods, practising Jews will also thoroughly clean their homes and cars before the holiday, to ensure they removed all crumbs and bits of leavened foods. The cleaning process culminates in a ritual candlelight search for any remaining "hametz", and the ritual selling of any "hametz" in their ownership to a non-Jew party.
Annually, the state of Israel ritually sells its leavened foods to an Israeli Arab family from the village of Abu-Ghosh, near Jerusalem. After the Holiday, the "hametz" is bought back from the family, to the ownership of the state.
The selling ceremony, which took place in Jerusalem on Sunday (April 17), was led by Israel's finance minister Yuval Steinitz and Israel's two chief rabbis.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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