There is a whole lot to write here about Pesach! As I have done before, I will break it down into sections – something like Yom Tov/Seder, Hol Ha'Moed, Shabbat, and last Yom Tov. This might take me a little while to finish up, as I have other things on my agenda, too, but I hope it will be done soon.
Erev Pesach and Yom Tov
Of course, we did bedikat chametz Sunday night right when it got dark. After that we ordered a pizza and ate in the park. By a pizza, I mean 3, and we only ate two of them; Jesse figured we'd all eat four slices, which just didn't happen, and Ethan only ate one. Monday morning, I burned our chametz from the search. Behind our apartment, in an open area, there were a couple of bonfires going. I threw the crumbs in and recited the formula (or declaration, as Sarah likes to call it). I also had a couple of other bags of bread that had to be disposed of, but they were moldy anyway so I just threw them in the dumpster; the fire wasn't that strong anyway. Gelb and I got some food at the convenient store right by our apartment, next to the pizza place; Israel had a good selection of Kosher for Passover food and one thing that one could only see in Israel is half the store's shelves covered with aluminum foil, as the chametz had been sold.
We took a 1:15 bus to Jerusalem. When I got to Jerusalem, it was hard to find a bus so I took a cab to Agron and I had some time before schul. Ally and I left around six, and we reached the corner of Emek Refaim when we saw some flowers on sale when Ally realized she left the flowers for my aunt and uncle at Agron. So she bought another small bouquet (and then gave the nicer one to them at lunch on Tuesday). We met Uncle Steve, Abby, and Michelle at Shira Hadasha, and then Ally and Michelle went back to their apartment and the rest of us went to schul. It was the longest Yom Tov ma'ariv I've ever been to! Mincha was slow, followed by a 15 minute d'var Torah, a slow ma'ariv (lots of chazzanut), and they did Hallel as well (I saw in my Koren siddur that this is a practice on the first night of Pesach).
The seder was very nice. It was the Kerbels, Ally, and another family whom Uncle Steve and Aunt Judy is friends with, I think from Uncle Steve's college days (and now they live in Israel). We did a quick thing up until the food, and Uncle Steve does a nice job of doing the maggid plus a few inserted comments that were insightful. Ally, Michelle, and I had our own fun at the end of the table (I think Aunt Judy told Michelle to stop talking like 15 times, and it was funny each time). The food (and wine for that matter) was delicious (I don't think I've written about too many meals here that were not good); we had brisket. And from that point there isn't too much to tell. At the end of the seder we hung around for a little while but I was starting to fall asleep so we walked home.
I didn't have an alarm clock, so it was kind of difficult to wake up for schul on time the next morning. Somehow, I managed to be up at 8:40, got dressed fast, and walked to Yakar and made it in time for the Amidah. As usual, I enjoyed the davening and the singing. I saw my Yeruham chavruta Aharon there – small country, isn't it? I then headed over to the Kerbel apartment, and Michelle was there sitting on the porch, since it was a nice day outside. The rest of the family was still at schul – Shira Hadasha isn't the fastest of synagogues. Michelle had a couple of friends over for lunch, one of whom Ally knows from home. We had a nice afternoon; we went to the park after lunch. Michelle came back to Agron with us and we chilled there. After Yom Tov I was the only Nativer still there, and I went to the Kikar Tzion area to find food. Basically, the only not fancy restaurant open was Burgers' Bar, so I had that and went to bed.
To be continued…