Rabbi Aharon Cohen, Gershon Mesika at Mimouna
Rabbi Aharon Cohen, Gershon Mesika at MimounaSamaria Regional Council

Dozens of government ministers and Knesset members participated in the traditional Mimouna celebrations held around the country Saturday night and Sunday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took part in the Mimouna celebration at the home of the Benita family in Or Akiva. “We will remember this holiday for three things,” the prime minister said. 

“This holiday, Israeli citizens also raised themselves to 14th place in the global happiness index. I want to thank the officers and soldiers of the IDF and the Israeli police force, who have allowed our people to celebrate safely,” Netanyahu added.

Leaders of communities in Judea and Samaria, Col. Ran Ephraim Kahana of the IDF's Ephraim Brigade, Yakir Rabbi Aharon Cohen and Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council head Gershon Mesika met to celebrate the holiday together. "Today, the holiday of faith gives us strength to stand fast in hard times," Mesika observed.

Opposition chairman Shaul Mofaz visited with a Kadima party activist in Be'er Sheva and then stopped off at the home of Itamar Shimoni in Ashkelon, a member of his staff. MK Ben-Eliezer (Labor) was hosted this year at the home of party member Richard Peres in Beit Shemesh, accompanied by MK Avishai Braverman.

The Mimouna, celebrated by North African Jews, begins several hours after the Passover holiday and continues the next day. It is a convivial holiday when people visit each other's homes, eat delicacies lavishly served by their hosts and repeat the greeting "tirbechu vetisadu" -"gain and partake of our repast". Its name derives, according to some sources, from the name of the father of Maimonides, the 12th century prolific Torah sage who made his home in Egypt, who was supposed to have died on that day. 

The Mimouna, meaning luck in Arabic, also celebrates the start of  spring and the renewed consumption of leavened products after Passover. Eating in one another's houses is a symbol of unity, in contrast to the custom of not eating in one another's homes for the week of Passover due to differing levels of adherence to the stringent laws regarding "chametz", leavened products.

In 1966, the Mimouna became a national Israeli holiday.

Some say the Mimouna demonstrates the Jewish people's faith in the coming of the Redemption. As Nissan is the month of redemption from Egypt and is said by the Talmud to be the month in which the future redemption will occur, If the Messiah has not arrived by the festival's end, the celebration emphasises unswerving faith that he will arrive one day, that we are living in a period of emerging redemption.