Last Preparations: Out With Bread, In with Matzah
Jews in Israel and around the world are making their final preparations for Passover (Pesach) on Friday. In Israel, the time to stop eating leavened bread products – chametz – is 10:03 a.m., and the last time to burn or otherwise dispose of it is 11:22 a.m.
Points have been set up across the country in which chametz can be safely burned.
Police have begun a state of high alert that will continue over the days of the week-long holiday. Thousands of officers have taken up positions in Jerusalem, where one main goal is to ensure that the Old City and Kotel (Western Wall) are safe for visitors. Police will also focus attention on mixed Jewish-Muslim neighborhoods.
On Monday, the Kotel will be the site of a very special biannual event – a massive Priestly Blessing. Hundreds of Kohanim, descendants of the biblical priests, will bless the people of Israel during morning prayers, which will be open to the public. The morning prayer service will begin at 8:45 a.m., the first blessing will be recited at approximately 9:30 a.m., and Mussaf prayers will start at 10.
Police will also providing extra security at parks and other public recreation places. The weather is expected to be hot yet pleasant during the intermediate days of Passover (Chol Hamoed).
Traffic police are preparing as well. They expect unusually heavy traffic as the holiday approaches and millions of Israelis travel to be with family.
The IDF is on alert as well. Palestinian Authority areas are under closure due to fear of terrorism, meaning that PA Arabs will only be allowed into Israeli areas in case of humanitarian need. PA Arabs will continue to travel freely within PA-controlled territory.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz plans to meet Friday with 400 lone soldiers to give them his best wishes before the holiday.