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Prior to relaying my personal experiences, I thought it might be interesting to point out two details I didn’t previously realize. First of all, as I learned in my excellent Conflict Dialogue between Jews and Christians course, the tradition of barbecuing after Pesach is not a new one; it was in place during Jesus’ time. Families came and sacrificed a lamb in the Second Temple, and then ate the prescribed portions in what we would call today a huge barbecue on Nissan 14, which is the Jewish calender’s day for Pesach every year (the whole city of Jerusalem was a joyous barbecue on the night of the Seder). The account of the Synoptic Gospels [Mark, Matthew, and Luke] all agree with this sentiment, and relay the tale of Jesus dining on the evening of the Seder. John actually relates a slightly different time line of events, with Jesus and his disciples eating on Nissan 13 and then Jesus being crucified at the same time as the lamb was sacrificed in the Second Temple. That said, it still stands that those same traditions have been adapted to fit to the realities of today. As the Second Temple is no longer standing, people celebrate the Seder in their home with the reading of the Haggadah, which is oddly the only Jewish liturgical piece read outside of synagogues. Similarly, they still do barbecue lamb (as they are able) the next day, which I am pleased to tell you I got to experience.

Historical, theological, and philosophical background aside, onto the main story: my personal experiences. After an excellent Pesach dinner and all the food, fun, and enjoyment that entailed, we slept in a bit the next day and then prepared ourselves for a barbecue. This should be obvious to everyone; what else should a human being feel inclined to do after ingesting a critically unhealthy number of delicious calories besides prepare, cook, and then consume most of an enormous barbecue the next day? Nothing else, obviously.

As such, we all made several trips down to the building’s yard, where we set up two small grills and started the charcoal burning (in Israel, “charcoal” is seen to be dried wood fragments, whereas the charcoal briquettes I am used to at home have a different name entirely, as it turns out) in order to cook lunch. What was for lunch, you might want to know? We all prepared different parts of it; Théo and Mr. Pitilon worked hard to make small bunches of lamb kebab (not in the shish kebab sense; these were small bunches of meat and vegetables mashed together and then cooked like that directly on the grill); Mrs. Pitilon was in charge of supervising that everything got downstairs properly and that all of the ingredients being cooked were prepared earlier in the day; Eti was in charge of photographing the event (as you shall see below); Itzik was in charge of helping a little bit with each of the various preparations going on (including setting up the table and chairs and the like); and then I, the American [imagine me adjusting my cowboy hat, dusting off my stirrups, and holstering my twin 6-shooter revolvers in their holsters], was directly in charge of grilling the barbecue chicken, which was done solely for the cause of liberty and freedom. As the previous comment implies, my friends and I have a good deal of fun making fun of various stereotypes about our respective cultures and peoples.

After our various jobs were carried out fully and to the letter (excepting the 5 points in time when the older of the 2 grills tipped over and nearly fell onto Théo, myself, and the ground), we all sat down to eat. The lamb kebabs were excellent; the grilled chicken was, if I do say so myself, ‘purdy darned good, ma’am [tips hat and rides into the sunset];’ the leftover potato salad from Pesach dinner was a perfect side dish, the Israeli red wine complimented the meal at hand; and the weather cooperated, with it being sunny and windy (thus allowing us to both hear and smell the nearby Mediterranean Sea). As if this series of evidence wasn’t beatific enough, we were then informed that we didn’t really need to help with cleanup but instead needed to go change into bathing suits for an afternoon spent on the beach.

Life is hard, as this account should indicate up to this point. We changed, and walked over to the beach (I should like to point out that as the Israeli mall had nothing in my size for flip-flops, a good 1.5 inches of my heels hang out over the backs of my feet, making for quite the tiptoeing experience across the broken glass-laden streets near the bay). Arriving, we set up towels and I promptly got into a comatose, post-barbecue concurrent-sunlight naplike-state. A lovely 20 minutes spent as such, at which point Eti’s friend Zahavit arrived with a bigger blanket and Eti’s beloved nargila (the Israeli name for the hookah). They set it up and smoked for a little while, while Théo and I discussed the merits of taking a plunge into the clearly-dirty waters of the Haifa bay. Even though we had recently eaten [too much], we decided on doing it, each figuring “if he is willing to do it, so am I.” Armed with this “logic,” we walked quickly over to the water which was fairly chilly at first.

Wading in deeper, we realized it wasn’t so bad after all, and began to enjoy what were really big waves (truthfully, they were approaching enough to surf on). At the same time, we were both aware of the presence of an extremely strong riptide beneath the surface, and kept trying to stay close to the beach. After it became clear that perhaps it wasn’t safe to get too far from the beach, we started an extremely arduous swim back to the shore. Once we arrived, fairly tired from our battle with Poseidon’s forces, we did the mature and dignified thing; we splashed Eti repeatedly with what she insisted was ice-cold water, and at odds with her loudly yelled wishes. There may be photographic evidence of this attached to this post, as it turns out 😀

An excellent afternoon to end an excellent week spent experiencing Pesach in the Jewish-Israeli tradition. It is vitally important to note that my own, personal Last Supper on the evening before Good Friday in Israel consisted of Coca Cola and two full [9×9 inches each] pieces of matza with Nutella in between, (slightly different than Jesus and the Apostles, but I work with what I have 🙂 ).

These photographs were all taken by Eti Pitilon, and are posted here with her permission.


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