Friday, April 6, 2007

Cultural Exchange: Matzo - Shukran wa Sahten!

Passover is a favorite holiday for Israelis because of its Zionist content, and it is celebrated by an overwhelming number of Israeli Jews.  Israel's Arabs have been a part of the Passover tradition, in a sense, for many years. It is they who symbolically "buy" all the 'Hametz' (not kosher for Passover) foods so that Jews can say they have no Hametz in their houses or businesses.
Less discussed, but nonetheless important, is a widespread cultural phenomenon. During the holiday, numerous not too observant Jews flock to Arab towns to buy non-kosher pita bread, beer and other items that have vanished from Israeli stores.  These are generally those who do not have the foresight to buy two cases of beer and three or four loaves of bread a week in advance, and to freeze the bread. We won't get into the whole issue of Jewish religious observance at Passover  or Israeli Jewish religious observance here. Suffice it say that Arabs do a fairly brisk business in non-kosher for Passover items in this season.

Now, some people may be very sorry to hear about such practices, and unhappy that I discuss what everyone knows (see the flame comment for an article that criticized Israeli candy), but that's the way it is, and that's the way we have to tell it, though some people may write angry comments reminding me that I am not Ephraim Kishon or Moses or whatever, and I wasn't in Israel during the riots of 1929 and I was not even present at the first Zionist congress, and therefore, according to them, I am not entitled to comment. I freely admit that I was not around at the parting of the Red Sea, but nonetheless I have to write what I know to be true.
Israeli Arabs, as we have long known, are collaborators in the celebration of Passover in Israel, and play a very important role in it.
What we didn't know perhaps, and what is most interesting, is that the exchange works both ways. While the Jews are busy buying pita bread, humus and other forbidden goodies, the Arabs are busy munching matzo!
So Sahten (hearty appetite in Arabic, Bete'avon (hearty appetite in Hebrew), Shukran (thanks in Arabic) and Toda (thanks in Hebrew) to everyone for their respective cultural contributions.
Ami Isseroff

Matza's secret fans - Arabs

By Yoav Stern  Haaretz 6 April 2007

The first swallow of spring is usually found in the heaps of Matza boxes that fill supermarket aisles all over Israel. It certainly applies to supermarkets in the Jewish towns and cities, and apparently is also true in Arab communities.

Gadaban Supermarket, located at the entrance to Umm al-Fahm, generally stocks up on Matza for Passover. Moreover, the supermarket has to replenish its stock before the end of the holiday, due to keen demand by locals.

Apparently, the Arab public regularly consumes large quantities of Matza.

Iyad Sharbaji, the manager of Gadaban, told Haaretz yesterday that his Matza is consumed entirely by local Arabs. "The Jews passing by here already have enough Matza. The customers are all from the local Arab community," he said.

His competitor down the road, The Market, opened this year. The demand for Matza therefore caught the store by surprise. "People told us ahead of time that they wanted Matza, so we bought five crates. Now we have only two left," he said.

It turns out the avid consumption of Matza is not a new trend in Arab towns and villages, whose inhabitants view the traditional Jewish food as a welcome and refreshing change in the menu. "It's not a religious issue, and certainly not a political one," Sharbaji explains.

A journalist associated with the Islamic Movement in Israel told Haaretz that he also bought Matza. "The kids can't get enough of it," he gleefully reported. "They eat it like crackers. But it also represents a sense of folklore for us. Maybe we like it more than Jews do because no one's forcing us to eat nothing but Matza all day long," he said in explanation.

Another happy customer from Baka al-Garbiyeh said his children and wife were "packing the Matza away," adding that they preferred to eat their Matza with a spread of jam or chocolate.

In fact, it seems Matza is particularly popular with Arab children, and most consumers report their sons and daughters especially relish the seasonal offering.

Since the demand for Matza in the Arab public is naturally unconnected to Passover, the residents of towns like Baka al-Garbiyeh begin consuming it well before the holiday.

Meanwhile, bakeries in Arab towns have reported a substantial increase in sales during Passover, as Jewish customers stock up on bread and pita, which are hard to find in Jewish towns over the holiday

Labels: ,

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

'Like this, as if' is a literal translation of Hebrew slang, 'kahzeh ke'ilu.' This Hebrew expression is a literal translation of 'so, like,' as in 'It was so, like, cool.' A weblog translating Israeli life into English.

Notice: Please read Ami and Joe: two great men have left us

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Notice- Copyright Materials

Israel: like this as if articles are copyright intellectual property of the authors. Please link to the originals and quote parts of them in non-commercial Web publications, and forward them to friends by e-mail with the URL of the original article and credit to the author. Other uses require written permission.

Zionism-Israel Info Center
Zionation Web Log
Zionism & Israel News
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

Zionism-Israel Pages
Brave Zionism
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
MidEastWeb: Middle East
Middle East Web Log

Irene Lancaster's Diary
Sharona's Week
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Meryl Yourish
Simply Jews
Liberal for Israel
Southern Wolf
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Peace With Realism
Realistic Dove
Sanda's Place
Blue Truth
Jewish State
Encyclopedic Dictionary of Zionism & Israel
Maps of Israel
Six Day War
Zionism and its Impact
Jew Hate!
Zionism on the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

RSS V 1.0