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Study and Theory/

Amnon H.

The most beautiful songs / Algiers

Hanita, 1989

Since I was 5 and until the age of 18 I crushed the salt. What does that mean: in preparation for Passover the salt has to be kosher, therefore they would buy a whole block (stone) of salt, and I would crush it into lots of pieces, until there were small fragments.

Another difficult task that was imposed on me: to roast the coffee. In preparation for Passover we had to buy green coffee beans (that were definitely kosher), and I would roast them in a kind of oven, which rotated over burning coals. I had to finish a huge quantity. And it used up all my playtime  The tension in preparation for Passover increased every day. My mother was worried, that she would not get everything done in time: pickling the vegetables – cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, peppers and more. We would put them into bottles and open them only on Seder night.

On the eve the Seder my father burned the hametz. All the family members would follow him, without saying a word, collect the hametz into bags., and place them in the entry to the house. The next day we would go with my father and throw the bags over a high bridge into the flowing river (that passed through the town). Immediately after the “throwing” we would go to the Turkish baths (I stayed there for hours).

We would return home and find the Seder table ready and waiting, decorated with a white tablecloth, shiny and beautiful candlesticks, a feeling of light, of newness, something special! Each year I would get excited by this wonderful and special sight.

At the end of the meal they would sing the most beautiful songs, in my opinion, some of them in Hebrew and some in Arabic, and I loved the tunes, and still today I sing them by heart on every Seder Night. We were happy to see the adults a bit happier than usual, because after four glasses there would be another four, and that made the adults sing with special emotion...until they cried.

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