I just spent my first Passover In Israel. Needless to say, it differed in many ways from Passover in the USA.
For one thing, there is only one seder. This is both good and bad. The good part is that much less cooking is required for one seder and one day, than for two seders and two days. There is also one more intermediate day for enjoying outings with the family.
The bad part- often everyone is so tired from all the pre Passover cleaning, cooking and shopping, that they are too tired to enjoy the seder. By the time the second seder rolls around, everyone has had a chance to rest and regain their energy. So they are able to enjoy the seder. Also, many Jewish schools give the kids lots of Passover stories, questions and explanations, to recite during the seder. Having two seders allows much more time for the kids to display their knowledge.
During the intermediate days, many offices and stores are closed, as are the schools. So families spend the time hiking and camping at the national parks and going to the beach.
Eating out is another common pastime during the intermediate days. In America, very few Kosher restaurants are open for Passover. In Israel, many are. The dishes they serve are amazing. One can buy Kosher for Passover hamburgers on potato flour buns, potato starch rolls, pizza made with potato flour, potato starch french toast, pasta made of potato flour, etc. In fact, the dishes look so real that when I first saw them, I thought they were made of real flour. Only the Kosher for Passover certification of these stores convinced me that the food was not made with leaven.
Here are a few pictures to prove my point:
For those who eat Kitniyot (legumes or grains such as corn, peas, mustard seed, soy and all varieties of beans) on Passover, the choice of foods is much greater. Chinese food take out stores feature soy based dishes and imitation noodles and other establishments carry all types of hummus. Judging by the crowds devouring the food, it must have been quite tasty.
So if you truly want to actualize the “Next Year in Jerusalem” phrase contained in the Passover Haggadah, make plans for being in Israel next Passover. You won’t be sorry!