Burn Notice


A Erev Passover in Israel is not a good time for anyone with respiratory problems.

Everywhere you go, smoke gets in your lungs. And in your eyes. And all over you.

As preparation for the holiday of matzah, during which Jews eat the unleavened bread and eschew any form of chametz, leavened products, a ritual burning of one’s chametz goods, usually some pieces of bread, takes place on the morning before the first seder.

Both religious and secular members of the Jewish community take part in this act of conflagration — you can see, and smell, fires in schoolyards, on the street, and in other venues.

Orthodox Jews, above, put their final traces of chametz into flames in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv.

The biur chametz ceremony, which is preceded by a declaration that one’s chametz “shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth,” is part of a series of actions that remove chametz from the owner’s domain, including selling it to a non-Jew, searching for it, throwing it out and mentally considering it no longer one’s possession.

After sundown on the first night of Passover, the seder begins — and that morning’s smoke has drifted into the sky, as forgotten as the chametz that fed the flames.