Israeli Arabs Like Matzoh

During the week of Passover, most Jews are eating only unleavened bread. But oddly enough, Arabs are also eating matzoh.

Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 09:57

World's Largest Matzah (illustrative)
World's Largest Matzah (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Matzot Orenstein

During the week of Passover, in which Jews are commanded to eat only matzoh – unleavened bread – one would be hard-pressed to find anything other than the flat, cracker-like wafers in any Jewish store in Israel.

In the Passover Haggadah, which tells the story of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, matzoh is described as the Bread of Affliction, because Jews had no time to allow the dough to rise properly for baking before fleeing their Egyptian taskmasters.

In the Arab sector, however, – 20 percent of Israel's population -- Muslims and Christians are not obligated to observe Jewish law, and they are free to eat whatever bread they like. But apparently what they like to eat is matzoh, according to a report published over the weekend by the Associated Press.

It quotes families in the northern Israeli Arab city of Umm el-Fahm who were carting away boxes of matzoh at a local supermarket, to be eaten at home with chocolate spread.

The store owner, Tariq Ifin, had no doubt he would sell the more than four tons of matzoh he had stocked in anticipation of the holiday. “You can't say Arabs and Jews are one people, but we share the same land, so why not share the same food?” he told AP reporter Ben Hubbard.

One of his customers backed him up, commenting, “Don't the Jews eat our bread? Fine, we eat their matzoh.” The mother of five added that her kids love the taste. “They eat it like cookies,” she explained.