Photo Credit: US Embassy Tel Aviv
Former Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin (1st from left), Former US Ambassador Dan Shapiro (2nd from left), and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz were guests at a Mimouna celebration hosted by the Amar and Portal families in Ashkelon, April 1, 2013.

The Mimouna is a North African (mainly Moroccan) Jewish celebration held on the day after Passover, marking the return to eating leavened food—which was forbidden throughout the week of Passover. In Israel, the Mimouna is a big deal, which, according to Harissa.com, in 2012 attracted close to 2 million Israeli Jews. Which means that some 4 million Israeli Jews just salivated at the images of fresh chometz cakes and other divine-looking goodies that were being devoured by the country’s Moroccans and the folks they chose to invite.

Dawara, a non-profit project aimed at creating direct encounters between people and between different populations using technology, has created an online initiative to connect between Jews who wish to be invited to a Mimouna celebration, and Moroccan Jews looking to host them. As of Wednesday, the website only had 25 users looking to host and 18 looking to munch. So spread the word.

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The Mimouna this year will fall on Shabbat, so the actual celebration will take place on Sunday. Indeed, this year, Israelis who normally tout their privileged 1-day last holiday of Passover over their brethren in the diaspora, this year will be forced to eat their matzo one more day.

Project initiator Haniel Elmakayes, from Yeruham, who celebrates the Mimouna every year, says that the project was born out of the need to restore the true essence of Mimouna – when the celebrants used to host and be hosted, walking among their neighborhood homes. The many celebrants used to leave their front door open, inviting anyone who wanted to come in.

“The hospitality was egalitarian, and everyone could enter – Jews and Muslims alike – without an invitation,” Elmakayes says.

The Dawara project was established in memory of Grandpa and Grandma Elmakayes, whose door was always wide open, Haniel Elmakayes says, noting that the only time the door was slammed shut and locked was after the last occupant had gone to sleep. Shabbat and holidays in their home had a lasting magical quality, as dozens of people ate and slept in their small apartment.

Just like at the time of the Temple, he says, a miracle happened and the house expanded according to the number of people who had arrived.

The Dawara Project was established in recognition of all the women and men who open their hearts and their homes, to house and to feed.

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