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Hustle & Bustle As Israeli Jews Ditch Bread For Matzah Over Passover Holiday

Hustle and bustle on the streets of Jerusalem ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover—or Pesach in Hebrew—which begins at sundown on Friday with the traditional Seder commemorating the exodus of the ancient Israelites from Egypt.

According to the Bible, Moses led his people out of bondage some 3,500 years ago after God cast ten plagues on the Egyptians, ranging from hail storms, to perpetual darkness to the eventual killing of all first-born males.

While Pharaoh ultimately agreed to let the Jewish people go, he quickly changed his mind and sent forces to recapture them. Scripture recounts that the Israelites were only secured when Moses parted the Red Sea for them, before the waters came crashing down on the pursuing Egyptian soldiers.

In their rush to leave Egypt—given the knowledge that Pharaoh previously had gone back on his word to set them free—the Jews could not risk waiting for their baked goods to rise, leaving them with flat, unleavened products called matzah to eat during their escape. In commemoration, Jews are forbidden during Passover from eating bread or related products, all of which must be completely removed from their homes.

Ahead of the festival, The Media Line visited the famous Mahane Yehuda Market to observe ongoing preparations, as well as the renowned Yehuda Matzos factory, which was in full gear mixing wheat, flour and water to produce up to 20 tons of matzah per day.

(Dina Berliner is a Student Intern in The Media Line’s Press and Policy Student Program)