YERUSA ALE EM (AP) – A year ago, the parents of Gi son Grego spent the Passover in Israel at home, alone but grateful that they survived the worst of the Italian epidemic. This year, the whole family will gather to celebrate the Jewish rocket of liberation և to get rid of the epidemic.
Israel has vaccinated more than half of its population of 9.3 million people, as coronavirus infections have plummeted, and authorities have allowed restaurants, hotels, museums and theaters to reopen. Up to 20 people can now gather inside.
This is a sharp turn compared to last year, when Israel was in the first of three nationwide blockades. Business was closed, checkpoints on empty roads և people were locked in their homes. Many saw only their elderly relatives through video calls.
“Celebrating Freedom Day in Israel really means a lot to us after this year,” said Grego, who emigrated to Israel from Italy. “Amazingly, this year we are able to celebrate together, given that everyone in Italy is still under blockade.”
Passover is a Jewish holiday that marks the liberation of the biblical Israelites from a series of divine plagues in Egypt. The week-long spring festival begins on Saturday evening with the highly ritualized Seder dish, as the story of the Exodus is retold. It’s a Thanksgiving atmosphere with family, friends, parties և four glasses of wine.
During the week, observant Jews refrain from eating bread or other leaven to commemorate the difficulties of flying from Egypt. Instead, they eat unleavened yogurt.
Festive preparations include spring cleaning to the extreme to remove the smallest crumbs of yeast from homes and offices. Boiling water pots are placed on street corners to boil kitchen utensils, and many burn their discarded bread, known as raisins. Supermarkets surround the corridors with yeast items, wrapping the shelves in black plastic.
Most Jewish Jews, religious and secular, spend Cedar with a large family. Last year’s Passover was a major break with tradition.
Government restrictions forced synagogues to close և limited movement և gatherings, slowing the spread of the virus. Some spent the ritual meal with their nuclear family, others because of watching, while the unfortunate few kept Cedar alone.
Another blockade was imposed in September on high Jewish holidays, again preventing family reunions, and a third came earlier this year, with more contagious versions of the virus emerging.
After the third blockade, Israel launched one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns after the government secured millions of doses of Pfizer և Moderna. Israel has now vaccinated more than 80% of its adult population.
It is too early to say whether the Israeli coronavirus crisis is over, as new vaccine-resistant versions may emerge.
Vaccination campaign on the Israeli-occupied West Bank in Gaza is slow. Israel has been criticized for failing to distribute most of its supplies. Israel has vaccinated more than 100,000 Palestinian workers working in Israel in the West Bank, sending several thousand doses to the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinians themselves have imported more than 130,000 doses, but it could be several months before the vast majority of the nearly 5 million Palestinians in the area have access to gunfire. Experts say this could pose a threat to Israel’s public health efforts.
For now, however, Israelis are enjoying what appears to be a post-epidemic reality, attaching special importance to the Passover.
“It is not only symbolic that it is a holiday of freedom, but also a holiday of the family,” said Rohing David Stav, chief rabbi of Shoham, head of the Orthodox Ohar Liberal Orthodox Organization.
“Families are uniting this year. “So many lonely people, especially the elderly, who were separated from their families, suddenly found the freedom and joy of being with them.”