Sunday, April 1, 2007

Preparing for Pesach in Public

I realized I had landed in a very different world when, while walking along the street in Jerusalem, I came across a few young men, wearing jeans, t-shirts and bushy beards, with an enormous pot of steaming water, propane tanks and a blow torch, ready to kasher (make kosher) pots for Passover.

A crowd had gathered, not to watch the kashering process (from what I could observe, torch first, then submerge in boiling water), but because they were in "line" (ha! Israelis don't know how to form or stay in lines; everyone tries to push to the front...) with their pots, pans, oven racks and burner covers, paying these young guys to purify their kitchenware for use during the holiday.

I was stunned, in a good way, to see what I've always known as a private ritual turned into a service performed in public, with little fanfare, just getting the job done. It's a scene simply unimaginable where I live. It had never occurred to be that Passover could be a boon to entrepreneurs (other than purveyors of kosher foods), but here are economies scale that simply don't exist anywhere else. Housecleaners, I suspect, are in demand this time of year, helping people remove every trace of chametz from their homes. The economist in me wonders if anyone has determined how much Passover contributes to Israel's GDP.

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