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Miri Regev (L) enjoys dressing up for the holiday.
Photo: Barel Efraim
Israelis celebrate end of Passover with Mimouna feast
The traditional North African holiday, the origin stories of which are as diverse as the sweets heaped upon the guests invited to the celebrations, is observed across the country as Passover concludes.

Large amounts of Israelis celebrated Mimouna, the quintessential holiday of house-hopping politicians, on Monday night immediately upon the conclusion of Passover.

 

  

Various Mimounas in Israel    (צילום: מתן טורקיה, שמיר אלבז, מוטי קמחי, אלי מנדלבאום, בראל אפרים)

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Following a week of ritual abstention from leavened bread, the public are finding long lines at bakeries that have opened to provide the traditional Moroccan crêpe called “mufleta.” Political figures tend to take advantage of the colorful celebrations that attract photographers and are keen on attending.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife attend a Mimouna in Hadera (Photo: Ido Erez)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife attend a Mimouna in Hadera (Photo: Ido Erez)
 

 

Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (C) and friends (Photo: Barel Efraim)
Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (C) and friends (Photo: Barel Efraim)

Dimona Mayor Benny Biton (C) enjoys mufleta with Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and Histadrut chief Avi Nissankorn (R)
Dimona Mayor Benny Biton (C) enjoys mufleta with Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and Histadrut chief Avi Nissankorn (R)

 

The Mimouna celebrations originated in Jewish communities in northern Africa, primarily in Morocco.

 

Buying leavened bread hours after Passover's conclusion (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Buying leavened bread hours after Passover's conclusion (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

 

The Mimouna has become recognized as a national holiday in Israel, and according to Dr. Meir Buzaglo, the head of the Philosophy department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the holiday, which has been celebrated for hundreds of years, has become widely celebrated in Israel, even by those who are not of North African descent.

 

Former Minister Gideon Sa’ar (3rd from left) in Ashkelon
Former Minister Gideon Sa’ar (3rd from left) in Ashkelon

According to one tradition, the name comes from Rabbi Maimon ben Yosef, the father of Maimonides, who died on the day after Passover.

 

(Photo: Barel Efraim)
(Photo: Barel Efraim)

 

Another tradition says the name comes from the Hebrew word “emuna” (“faith”). A third etymology claims the name comes from the Arabic word for “wealth” or “good luck.”

 

Leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog (L)
Leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog (L)

 

Since the Mimouna is celebrated after the final day of Passover, the day in which, according to tradition, the Red Sea was split in half, some view the celebrations and the customs attached to them as relating to that biblical event.

 

A Mimouna spread (Photo: Barel Efraim)
A Mimouna spread (Photo: Barel Efraim)

 

Others believe that since the Mimouna celebration begin with a dough-kneading ceremony, the Mimouna actually serves as a transition between the days of the Passover holiday to the unsanctified days to follow.


(Photo: Rotem Pirani)
(Photo: Rotem Pirani)

(Photo: Asaf Zagrizak)
(Photo: Asaf Zagrizak)

 

According to yet another belief, the sweets served at the Mimouna symbolize abundance and blessings. On this holiday, the family doesn’t gather around its own table, but rather opens its door to guests, serves sweets and welcomes all who come. A fish placed in a bowl of water and the bracelets worn are also popular signs in Arab nations for abundance and good fortunes.

 

Because good fortunes and abundance are at the center of the Mimouna celebrations, some believe the custom originated in a pagan celebration: a song of praise to the goddess of good fortune.

 

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