The Jewish world will be celebrating Pessach (Passover) in three weeks from now. In Jerusalem, the Rami Levi supermarket chain has already put the traditional Pessach cookies on sale. Cookies without Chametz (wheat, oats, spelt, rye or barley) but made of potato flour. I haven’t been to the haredi supermarket chain Osher Ad yet but if you look for Mazzot in Jerusalem, Osher Ad is the place to go to. Never in my life I have seen such a huge variety of different Mazzot as at Osher Ad last year. And it pays off when you want to buy handmade Mazzot, as they are much cheaper than ordering them from Chabad!
If you are looking for a Pessach Seder in Jerusalem: Chabad and the Great Synagogue are selling tickets if you are in need and have nowhere else to go to. One has to book in advance and a ticket costs $ 75 or around 270 Shekels. Chabad Rehavia also charges $ 50 for each child (from the age of 3).
I don’t know whether the Christians are celebrating their Easter on the same date as the Jews celebrate Pessach. Usually this is the case and this is why Jerusalem will be flooded with all kinds of crazy Christians. Some are normal and well – behaved but the majority hates Jews. Especially around Easter time. The paradox, however, is that a lot of Christians try to sneak into Jewish Pessach Seders every year. Two years ago, I went to a Chabad Rehavia Seder. I paid 250 Shekels / $ 70 in advance but a whole tour group of Christians just walked in last minuted and grabbed a whole table. After complaining several times to Chabad Rehavia about Christians going in and out all the time, nothing has changed and I stopped going there. I am sure that this Pessach, a lot of Christians will be there stuffing themselves.
On the one hand, these Christian tourists hate Jews but on the other hand, they love to freeload food. Or they show up at Rabbi Machlis with smartphones in order to make videos. Just ignorant people whose tour guides told them about a Jewish place with free food. A German tourist once complained at the Machlis home that he came to eat and not listen to the Rabbi’s Shabbat teachings.
But it is not only Chabad Rehavia accepting Christians for the Seder. Also the Great Synagogue was flooded with Chinese tourists two years ago. It is a real disgrace that apparently no one cares about who is coming to a Seder. If I went to such a Seder, I would expect a Jewish atmosphere. Instead you are sitting next to a bunch of Chinese or a German Christian tour group freeloading.
The Machlis family won’t do a public Seder, as they always go away over Pessach. If you are in need of a second Seder, you can contact Jeff Seidel’s Jewish Student Information Center in Jerusalem or Chabad at the Cardo (in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City). At least there you won’t run into Christian tour groups. 🙂