Pesach in the Park

by Yosef Ben Tzion (Joel Busner) – April 2001

A BARBECUE

After consuming far too much matzo during the Seder and early days of Pesach our family needed a change.  Why not a barbecue?  Why not indeed?  Off we went with some friends to Ra’anana Park.  “Oh my!” I exclaimed as our car entered the area of the park.  There was practically no parking for miles.  Luckily, someone pulled out not too far from the Park’s entrance and we pulled in right after they left.  Before I knew it we were in the middle of the Sharon region’s most beautiful and well kept park.  We made our way over to the barbecue/picnic area.  The last time I saw so much grilling going on I was at a Giant’s football game at Meadowland’s stadium in Rutherford New Jersey.  Only this time the meats being grilled all around me were kosher.

I went to work setting up our grill.  “Oops!”  I forgot the matches.  No problem, one of my new barbecue buddies, a guy I just met from Petach Tikvah threw me his matches.  The wind was a bit too strong and the flame kept burning out.  Here I was a veteran deli and grill man and I couldn’t start my own barbecue.  Someone came from behind me, lifted my grill top and tossed in a few hot pieces of charcoal.  I thanked him, and he asked me, “What for?”  Now the wind worked in my favor and within a few minutes we had a roaring fire.  As I placed some marinated lamb on the fire, a few new ‘friends’ from Kfar Saba came over to trade spice secrets with me.  I later gave some of them samples of veal spareribs with duck sauce.  They simply couldn’t understand why a sauce so sweet with no meat in it would be named after a duck.  No matter, they loved it!

As the cooking wore on and I wore out, my friends (the ones I came with from Ginot Shomron) began to take over the cooking to allow me time to eat all the things that I shouldn’t.  I looked around at the other picnic tables and noticed one thing in common; While some people were eating rolls made from matzo, no one was eating any bread whatsoever.  What a phenomenon!  Hundreds of people all around me from so many different backgrounds and yet no one was eating bread.

LIKE A WALK IN THE PARK

It was time to take a walk with my wife.  We strolled leisurely from one section of the park to another.  Being curious I couldn’t help but make more visual and acoustic observations.  There were literally tens of thousands of people.  I noticed women very modestly dressed and some not so modestly dressed.  There were men wearing black kipot, knit kipot, and no kipot.  By the petting zoo I noticed several Hasidic families and not a few of the men were wearing Shtreimels.  Besides Hebrew I heard plenty of English, French, Spanish, Russian, and a bit of Yiddish.  But mostly, I heard Jews.

BUT WHAT WILL BE?

The sun started to slowly fade and with that quorums of men began to assemble in different areas of the park to recite Mincha (afternoon service).  I ran up a hill to take a quick look at the different minyans.  What a site!  So many people praying in the same direction, Jerusalem.  As the sun bid us goodbye, we headed back to the barbecue/picnic area to pack up.

As I approached my now ash filled barbecue grill, many of my new friends were cleaning up as well.  One of them looked at me and said, “Nu, what will be?”  I stopped what I was doing and thought for a moment.  “It will be good”.  I really meant it and I still do.  Not in Borough Park, Flatbush, Montreal, or in a Miami Beach Hotel.  If all the Jews would come home, we could be a free Nation in all the land of Israel as we were for a day in Pesach, in the Park.