As you take a few minutes out of your pre-Pesach panic, I just want to share with you some thoughts.

What an amazing time to have been in Israel! The buzz surrounding the election was awesome. In England I would vote and it was always exciting for me, due to my love of politics, but to do so here includes an extra patriotic element with feelings of pride and brotherhood. Adding to that the fact, my guy won and I got to take the day off with my wife. I can say it was a very productive day. However, as we do not have a BBQ yet we bought the disposable ones. Needless to say we still didn't end up having a BBQ and I have learnt my lesson to try out Israeli products once before buying in bulk.

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As far as elections go, I believe that it should be obligatory to vote. You don’t have to choose someone if no-one entices you so, if that’s the case, you should abstain instead. However, in Israel, where Golda Meir famously said she was the Prime Minister of six million Prime Ministers, everyone here has an opinion and, despite always having the right to comment in a democracy, you can not expect anyone to listen if you decide not to contribute. I was really happy to see turnout had increased since the last election, but over a million people still did not turn up. In Israel we are voting for the future of the society we want to live in as the country is still young enough to be able to make drastic changes if needs be. This was why I was so excited to vote.

Another issue that emerged from the election was how those outside of Israel were speaking, specifically on social media. When I was on MasterChef and the judges said my dish was good, or bad, hundreds, if not thousands, of people were commenting and judging it. It was hard not to take some of those negative comments personally, despite their irrelevance as they obviously never tasted my dishes and am sure most would never have said it to my face. The ‘bravery’ of sitting at home away from the person you are insulting! The same happened with the election when someone would post a comment about who they voted for and people would belittle and insult them disgracefully. What most upset me about this was that the day was filled with such achdut (brotherhood) on the streets - until people went on their Facebook feeds and saw others disagreed with them.

A friend of mine, who has recently made aliyah and did not vote for Bibi as felt he was weak on domestic policy, was insulted and I would say bullied by people from London when he voiced his opinion and told he could not have an opinion having only made aliyah four months ago by someone who chooses to live in a country more Muslim than Jerusalem. It is very tough for all olim when they come here and we can tell quite quickly the problems Israel faces after having lived oftentimes in the most ‘civilized’ cities on earth. Costs of living here are astronomical and security is a daily concern. After the terrorist attacks where they were running us over in the streets, I pooed myself whenever my wife was walking alone in the streets. After Har Nof’s massacre, going to synagogue was a big deal.

I’m not saying that if you don’t live in Israel you have no right to pass judgement. We all do and should take an interest in Israel. It is OUR country whether you live here or not. However, have respect for others’ opinions, listen before speaking and you might learn something, and if you have the opportunity, make your vote count. As the great Mahatma Gandhi z’l said: ‘You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.’ Be a shepherd like Moshe, not a sheep!

I am very excited for Pesach. We did a mock Seder at Ulpan which was really beautiful and got us all in the spirit.

With the holiday's imminent arrival I wanted to share a simple to make dish where you throw everything into your roasting pan and just leave the oven on that has fresh and funky flavors. Here is my roasted Asado cooked with fresh oranges, Arak and root vegetables. The fennel, fennel seeds and mustard seeds here are only kosher for Pesach if you eat kitniyot but I made it with even though I don’t eat kitniyot over Pesach as tastes a lot better. However, without these it still tastes great!

Roasted Asado cooked with fresh oranges, Arak and root vegetables

•    Fill the bottom of a roasting pan with chopped onions, garlic, fennel, potatoes and carrots
•    Lay the Asado on top and sprinkle all with coarse salt, ground black pepper, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, brown sugar, thyme, orange juice, Arak and beef stock
•    Top with sliced oranges
•    Cover with foil and roast for 3 hours on 160oC, turning the meat over every hour, then remove the foil and increase the heat to 200 degrees C and cook for 30 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes
•    Drain the gravy through a cheese cloth or chinoise, bring to a boil and reduce, skimming off the fat, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon
Simple, fresh and delish.

Try any other spices you feel like, such as cumin, star anise, some chili etc. Remember, your imagination is your only limitation.

Enjoy and Chag Sameach!

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