Member Michal “Peanut” Karmi sent us this dispatch from Israel. Happy Passover to our friends all over the world!
Passover: A Celiac’s time to shine, spring is springing, and other musings from the Holy Land
It’s been seven years since I left Israel for good, and every time I’ve planned a visit, my potential itinerary has attempted to tiptoe around this time of year. Passover: when leavened bread restrictions dampen access to the fragrant Israeli fare in its full glory.
Now that I’m mostly gluten-free, it seems like a visit during Passover is pretty much winning the dietary restriction lottery. Wheat is still around, but so are multitudes of alternatives. All of a sudden mainstream Hummuserias offer gluten-free pita bread, and you can go to any ol’ kosher-for-Passover eatery and indulge in multiple course gluten-free gluttony (I had to go there).
The transformation exists not just in food, but in the weather, too. Be it because it’s the land of milk and honey; truly a holy land; or simply because it’s tied to my infancy, this part of Earth holds a space around the holidays that changes the actual air.
For example: in early fall, a sense of sadness lingers around Yom Kippur, the holiday of repentance. Starting at the beginning of September, summer’s demise is especially prominent, where a scorching heat is swept away by rising evening breezes. Now, in spring, the sun doesn’t yet fully claim its presence on the land. Whispers of winter still carry in cooler winds, cloudier skies, and the last of the showers.
As a mixed-weather Californian, I forgot these things. Seasons just kind of got stirred in a faraway cauldron, holidays and weather decoupled. So much so, that I didn’t pack quite properly for Israeli spring. I’m making due, don’t you worry, and it’s so nice to be here again (all politics/culture clashing/push-and-shoving aside), amongst family and old friends, where the scents of my childhood match the time of year to a tee. Indeed, Passover is here.
While as a culturally Jewish/spiritualist/heathen I’ve never technically gone through Chametz cleaning – the act of scrubbing every corner of your home to rid it of any trace of leavened bread, thus rendering your home Kosher for Passover – My Jewish jazz musician friend recently mentioned embarking on the task. This inspired me to write a jazzy Chametz cleaning song for kids. If you ever wonder how people come up with really weird ice cream flavors, I imagine the thought process is similar:
Spring arugula salad members à Balsamic vinegar + strawberry ice cream.
NYC+ Jazz + Jew chats around Passoverà Jazzy Chametz song in English.
Sometimes I wonder about the notion of spring-cleaning: is it nature inspired, a time for renewal and rebirth? Or perhaps is it a Chametz thing? I don’t know. Either way, it’s a great time of year to clean that clutter, reclaim your space, and if it’s your thing, scrub-a-dub-dub that Chametz. Happy Passover!
scrub-a-dub-dub chametz today
chametz today we scrub-a-dub-dub
we’ll scrub-a-dub-dub it all away
it all away we’ll scrub-a-dub-dub
you scrub here and I’ll scrub there
betwen us we’ll scrub everywhere
we wait for spring
and then first thing
we pick up brooms and mops and sing
our tummies for Pesach food cry
matzo ball soup and matzo brie
macaroons, charoset too
an empty chair for you-know-who
(it’s Elijah the prophet!)
scrub a dub…
Words and Music by Michal Karmi 2015