JERUSALEM—Not every Israeli observes Passover, but every Israeli knows Passover is coming.
Preparations for the seven-day holiday are impossible to ignore and encroach on almost every facet of life in the weeks leading up to Seder night.
Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reveals that 88 percent of Israelis will take part in a Seder and 47 percent will eat only kosher for Passover items during the holiday.
As for Israel’s army, some 200 IDF chaplains, including reservists, are pressed into service to commence the massive task of koshering the hundreds of kitchens, mess halls and eating corners used by soldiers at bases all over the country. According to Rabbi Zev Roness, a captain in the Armored Training School, “It’s a whole operation… The army prepares more than a month before Passover to ensure that all of the army kitchens meet the highest kosher-for Passover standards.”
Street scenes in Israel change every day before Passover according to what’s halakhically necessary: Several days before the Seder, young men wielding blow torches preside over huge vats of boiling water stationed every few blocks on the street and in the courtyard of every mikveh.
The lines to dunk metal utensils start to grow every day, and at the last minute before the Seder, blow torches are at the ready to cleanse every last gram of chametz from oven racks and stove tops lugged through the streets by kids or overwrought mothers.
Prominent newspaper ads from Israel’s Energy Ministry feature dire warnings about the dangers inherent in cleaning gas burners. The text of the ads advises on the minutiae of taking apart the metal covers to get at that last bit of chametz.
No alarm clock is needed in the pre-Passover period–clanging garbage trucks do the trick as they roll through the neighborhood every morning during the two weeks before Passover to accommodate all the refuse from the furious cleaning going on.