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Jerusalem’s Religious Quarter Bustles with Passover Preparations

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The marketplace in the religious quarter of Mea Shearim came alive this morning as its residents made final preparations for Passover. “There’s no time to rest and no time to speak,” said 21-year-old Moshe Blau, a Yeshiva student working temporarily in a religious articles shop.

“Everybody works much harder the day before Pesach than at any other time,” Blau explained. Officially the holiday begins at sundown tomorrow, but observant Jews must have their homes ready by early morning. Mrs. Leah Dirnfeld, a 40-year-old immigrant from the United States, who came to Israel more than seven years ago, said she was up until 3:30 this morning finishing up in the kitchen. Tonight she will go through the house with a candle to “see if there’s even a crum of hamatz left.”

Soviet immigrants at absorption centers were visibly moved when teams of volunteers organized by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Jewish Agency appeared last week with paraffin burners and cauldrons to kosher their saucepans and cutlery. Many said this was the first time they were able to prepare for the festival openly and without hindrance.

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