Masa Leadership Summit in Jerusalem, March 2015SMLXL

Celebrating Passover in Israel for the First Time
Passover holiday ended this week, and it has been very enriching. The only bad thing this week was that the sunny and abundant heat has been replaced with damp and cold. I didn’t do any extreme travelling, mainly just along the coast, to the city and a lot of chilling and hanging out with friends (my photo of the beach is below). But probably the highlight of celebrating the Pesach (Passover) holiday here in Israel was my ability to observe it completely (completely, for me).
In America, I have never been very observant of Passover, outside of a not-very-religious-Passover-seder. [The seder is the dinner ceremony in which Jews celebrate Passover with friends and family. In Israel, Jews usually hold a ritual seder on the first, second, and final nights of the holiday.]
Here in Israel, the seder I choose to participate in was religious, complete with karpas (parsley), maror (bitter herbs), the Four Questions, wine, and everything. I almost questioned if I would feel too out of place, but it was a great experience and it confirmed my belief that the people at Chabad are very welcoming to all denominations and levels of observance. Now I am proud to say I  am familiar with the religious aspect of the seder.
Here, even if you did not want to observe Pesach you are kind of forced too. The chametz [bread product] aisles are closed off (see photo below) and many restaurants are closed too. Of course, if you have a Tiv Tam [Russian grocery store that does not abide by the usual codes of what it is acceptable to sell in Israel, i.e. non-kosher food products], you can go ahead and break the rules [and eat bread].
Also, here in Israel there is not only the hard matza (the only thing largely available in my area in USA). There are many K+ soft and fresh matzot products available, and you can even find pizza places that are Kosher L’Pesach. In Texas I go without- and in my case, suffer – because I am large bread eater, but here there are options that, while not as tasty, at least imitate a normal piece of bread.
April 2015 is full of memorial and holidays.
This Thursday I am going to Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). Next week, Israel will commemorate Yom HaZikaron (Veteran’s Day), and celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day). I think Yom Hashoah will be very moving and possibly depressing, but I hope it ends on a inspiring note. The Palestinian Nakba Day is on May 15.
Volunteering in Rahat
At my work in addition to my routine, we did have some delegation visits including a visit of American High School students to the Bedouin students in Rahat. My project tour continues in its design stage and time is flying so fast it is no longer so clear when will be the first launch date.
Leadership Summit
I was also selected to be a participant in the Masa Israel Leadership Summit. It was a full week in Jerusalem, with room and board provided, to connect young people from around the world and provide “leadership seminars”. I made friends from Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, France, and India, but even more countries than that were represented. (We are pictured in the title photo at the top of this post.)
My time here in Israel with A New Dawn in the Negev has been invaluable and as my end date comes quicker, the quicker time truly flies.
Photos:
Spring is here and the flowers are blossoming in the community garden near my apartment.
SMLXL

In Israel, all of the chametz (bread products) are covered in the grocery stores during Passover.
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The bright blue Mediterranean sea. 
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Shared with permission from Cody’s blog: Texas to the Negev. See his original post here.
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