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HOLIDAYS: PAST AND PRESENT

Preparing for holidays, as well as celebrating them and keeping kosher constitute the foundations of Jewish identity across the world and help preserve the existence of the Jewish diaspora. They build social ties by emphasizing the unique role of home and family.
The image is mainly in shades of orange and pink. A fragment of a table covered with a tablecloth. There is a girl sitting at the table, a woman standing on the other side. On the table two candles in high candlesticks. The woman raises her hands towards the candles.

"Shabbat"

Nahum Gutman, watercolor on paper, 1950-1990.
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
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Shabbat preparations

During Shabbat, Jews must refrain from all work and must not light fires or cook. It is therefore imperative to prepare a substantial meal in advance and store it in a warm place. For this purpose, Jews from Central and Eastern Europe have been making cholent for centuries, while Jews from the southern part of the continent make adafina or hamin. In the distant past, pots of food were wrapped in straw in order to keep them warm. With time, it became common to take the pots to the local bakery to be stored in a heated oven overnight and collected on Saturday morning.
A gray piece of paper. In the middle there is a black and white illustration. on it a woman stands at the table. He raises his hands towards the candlestick. Under and above the illustration there is a black inscription in Hebrew and Spanish.

Lighting of the Shabbat candles

Illustration in "Minhagim", a collection of religious practices in the annual cycle, publ. Gerhard Johann Janson, Amsterdam, 1775
Gross Family Collection, Tel Aviv
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Lighting of the Shabbat candles
Black and white photography. Shop window. In the narrow door, a teenage boy. In the narrow window of the site shelf with bread.

A boy in the doorway leading to a bakery

The sign in Yiddish reads: “Tasty and pretty challahs for Shabbat. We could bake your challah, too”. Kraków, 1938.
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York
Black and white photo. Women, men and children pose for a photo. Females hold dishes in their hands. In the background, the roofs of houses.

Women carrying pots of cholent to a bakery

Białystok, 1932.
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York
The interior of the kitchen, at the kitchen counter the rabbi cuts fish into large pieces

Preparing for Shabbat at the Jewish religious community in Katowice

In the photo, rabbi Yehoshua Ellis. 2011, photo: Arkadiusz Ławrywianiec
Private collection
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Preparing for Shabbat at the Jewish religious community in Katowice
Preparing for Shabbat at the Jewish religious community in Katowice

Pesach preparations

The Pesach holiday requires a special preparation. All products that contain leaven (heb. "chametz"), or that have come into contact with it, must be disposed of. This involves a thorough clean-up of the house and the removal of flour, bread crumbs, and all other articles (not only food) containing grain, even in trace amounts. These preparations culminate in a symbolic burning of leavened bread on the eve of the holiday. Before the war, there was a custom, which persists to this day in Orthodox communities in the United States and Israel, of burning chametz in public, in the courtyard. To avoid throwing away valuable products, property was often transferred to non-Jewish neighbours before Pesach by signing a sale contract.
Two black and white illustrations. At the top, several people put the apartment in order. Downstairs, several people sit around a round table during a meal.

Cleansing the house of chametz and the Seder dinner

Scenes from the life of Portuguese Jews, copperplate engraving by Bernard Picart, Amsterdam-Paris, 1724.
Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
A gray square card. On the left, the text in the Hebrew alphabet. On the right and at the bottom there are colorful illustrations depicting preparations for the Seder dinner.

Preparations for Pesach

Illustrations in "Rotschild Miscellaneum" (a collection of varia), Venice, 1470.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Kitchen interior. A middle-aged man at the bread oven. The man is dressed in a white shirt and a dark vest. On his head he has a cap with a small visor.

Baking matzo at a bakery

Lida, 1926, photo: Alter Kacyzne
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York
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Baking matzo at a bakery
Baking matzo at a bakery
Black and white photo. 3 long set tables. Along them on both sides sit many people.

Seder evening attended by the Jewish survivors after the war

Poland, 1947.
Polish Press Agency, Warsaw
Black and white photo. On the sidewalk stands a man in a dark coat and hat. In his hands he holds an open prayer book. A woman smokes in a bucket chamec.

Burning chametz

New York, 1960s.
ANU – Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Awiw
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Burning chametz
Burning chametz
Black and white photography. A smiling young man poses by the bread oven. In his right hand he holds a dough wrapped in canvas. His left hand is slightly raised.

Baking matzo for Passover

Kabul, 1970s.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
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Baking matzo for Passover
Four men are standing against the wall. On the tables attached to the wall, they knead the dough for matzah.

Baking matzo for Passover

Mea Sha’arim, Jerusalem, 2019.
East News
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Baking matzo for Passover
Baking matzo for Passover
A group of men stands in front of the building. One of them leans over a small bonfire lit on the sidewalk.

Burning chametz before Pesach in the Jewish community of Warsaw

In the foreground Rabbis Michael Schudrich and Yehoshua Ellis. 2019, photo: Krzysztof Bielawski.
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
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Burning chametz before Pesach in the Jewish community of Warsaw
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