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May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Passover’

Chabad Sends a Seder to Soldiers in ‘The Middle of Nowhere’

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

In the middle of nowhere, a group of Israeli soldiers guarding the nation’s border with Jordan prepared to meet the Sabbath Queen with a canned Passover Seder.

But facing the holiday with army-issue rations was not a pleasant prospect. So as the sun began to sink closer to the horizon, the men put their heads together.

Who could possibly provide a decent meal for these guardians of Israel on the eve of the Festival of Freedom – out in the middle of nowhere?

“Call Chabad,” advised one of the soldiers. Quickly someone Googled a number and came up with Rabbi Shimon Elharar, Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and head of Chabad of the Dead Sea.

A quick conversation ensued. Food he could provide; of course he had the contacts.

But who could get it to the soldiers in time for the holiday? They were, after all, literally in the middle of nowhere. Just about inaccessible. The sun was nearing the horizon. No Jew could make that trip and get back in time without desecrating the Sabbath.

And the soldiers could not leave to pick it up.

Enter a hero named Azmi, a righteous Arab Gentile who certainly will have his place in the World to Come. Azmi picked up the food from a restaurant where Passover preparations had been made.

At 6:30 pm, Azmi delivered the food to a position designated by the soldiers, just in time for them to set up before the start of the special Passover Sabbath seder.

“Today by chance I met an IDF soldier at one of the checkpoints at the Dead Sea,” Rabbi Elharar told JewishPress.com in an exclusive interview. Hearing his voice, I asked if he had been among those who were assigned to guard the border on Friday night and when he said “yes,” I asked how the seder had gone.

“What a huge smile lit his face!” the rabbi said. “He said ‘Yes indeed, the messenger made it on time. We were so amazed. We had a great holiday celebration.

“Wow – Chabad really is everywhere.”

US President Barack Obama’s Belated Video Passover Greetings

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Official video Passover greetings from U.S. President Barack Obama to Jews around the world were posted to the Internet Saturday night – 24 hours after the start of the holiday and too late for American Orthodox Jews to have heard his message, since the holiday lasts 48 hours outside the Land of Israel.

The video greeting also came a day after Israeli Jews had already celebrated their own Passover seders as well.

An official press statement from the president on Passover was issued by the White House on April 3, however, in time for the first night of Passover.

Obama explained Saturday night in his video message that he and his family had held a Passover seder at the White House in solidarity with Jewish families celebrating the holiday.

“This weekend is a special weekend,” he said. “It’s a chance to spend time with family … and celebrate miracles in days gone by,” he said, “and to reflect on the blessings God has granted us in our lives.”

“On Friday night, I hosted a Passover seder at the White House. Michelle and I joined Jewish families in America, Israel and around the world as we retold the story of an awesome God who liberated the nation with a mighty Hand and an outstretched arm., and set them on their journey towards the Promised Land.

“The tale that has been passed down from generation to generation and it’s given strength and courage to countless men and women over the years – to Jews facing anti-Semitism, and to the brave young civil rights leaders who led our own country’s march towards justice and equality,” he said, managing to tuck the issue of America’s race relations even into a simple Passover greeting.

He then turned to the upcoming Christian observance of Easter, noting that on Sunday, Christians around the world would be celebrating the holiday.

“Easter is a day of hope, in a season of hope,” he said. It’s a reaffirmation of our belief, not just as Christians, but as Americans, that better days are always ahead of us…

“We believe that with common effort, and shared sacrifice, a brighter future is just around the bend. And we embrace our obligation to do something meaningful; something lasting with the precious time we’ve been allotted on this earth.

“So, to my Jewish friends, Happy Passover. To all Christians celebrating tomorrow, Happy Easter. And to every American, have a wonderful weekend.”

Thousands Accompany Rabbi Shmuel HaLevi Vosner, 102, zt’l, to Rest; 1 Killed, More Hurt in Trampling

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

The great Shevet HaLevi, Rabbi Shmuel HaLevi Vosner (Wosner) passed away a short time after the start of this Passover (Pesach) holiday. A towering Torah personality, the sainted rabbi was laid to rest overnight in a 1:30 am funeral in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak.

As his body was respectfully carried by his broken-hearted students down the street, more tragedy struck as a much younger man attending the funeral died as well.

Thousands packed the streets of Bnei Brak to accompany the 102-year-old Shevet HaLevi, Rabbi Shmuel Vosner (Wosner ), zt'l, on his final journal past the Chochmei Lublin Yeshiva and to his final resting place.

Thousands packed the streets of Bnei Brak to accompany the 102-year-old Shevet HaLevi, Rabbi Shmuel Vosner (Wosner ), zt’l, on his final journal past the Chochmei Lublin Yeshiva and to his final resting place.

The father of three, Motti Gerber, 27, joined the saintly rabbinic decisor of Jewish law in death as a result of trampling at the funeral, according to numerous reports. In addition, three others males ages 25, 14 and 40, were seriously wounded when the balcony on which they were standing collapsed while they were watching the proceedings. Eight others were rushed to local hospitals with shortness of breath and bruises due to trampling, Magen David Adom reported.

MDA emergency medical response teams were summoned to attend the massive crowd that accompanied the rabbi’s body through the streets. More than 100 people were treated for “crowding” injuries.

The ‘Shevat HaLevi’ (the Tribe of Levi) was so called after the name of the series of numerous holy books that he wrote as commentaries and response on Jewish law.

Thousands attended the overnight funeral, with several eulogizing the rabbi’s deeds. “The unity of the people of Israel was very important to him, to maintain the friendship and love in the nation,” one rabbi noted.

Rabbi Vosner’s son, Rabbi Chaim Vosner, 78, was immediately appointed to succeed his father as the head of the Chochmei Lublin Yeshiva (Lublin Torah Academy) and as rabbinic leader in Bnei Brak.

May the Shevet HaLevi be a meylitz tov — a strong advocate in the Heavenly Court — for the People of Israel, and his memory be for a blessing.

Chag Kasher v. Sa’meach

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through}

I am neither a cook nor a chef.

While I love to eat, my wife prohibits me from doing any food preparation for fear -not without reason or history- that should I venture into her holy sanctuary, the entire room – no, the house itself! – would become un-kosher.

Over time, my place has become confined to the kitchen table. It is there that I must sit and wait for my meals, not unlike our dog (which she prefers on most days) who waits before his bowl. Remarkably, I am afforded more table scraps than him. Score one for me.

This is not to say that I cannot approach the sink. My share of the household bargain falls on cleaning up after meals. My wife considers the dishwasher and garbage pail safe terrain, as I can usually deduce whether I just consumed a dairy or meat meal.

That all ends on Passover.

When I think of my wife on Passover, I am reminded of the final scene from the movie Gallipoli where manic soldiers charge an Ottoman trench, knowing of their certain death. A fury fills her eyes as the holiday approaches and I know that no cleaning I do could ever satisfy her Kashrut Compulsive Disorder (commonly referred to by Jewish psychiatrists as KCD). This non-silent killer has taken more husbands than latkes on Hanukah.

My wife, let’s call her “Pharaoh” to protect her identity from the teachers in school who think of her as a sweet, mild-mannered parent, despises Passover. Her venom is matched by her vigilance as she tries to square the invisible shmura matzah of Passover kashrut stringencies with her own KCD.

The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt had it easier than my modern Pharaoh. The ancient kings had teams of advisers and thousands of slaves to execute their commands. Today’s Pharaoh is left with a spouse who only gets to clean in the kitchen during most of the year because we have two dishwashers. More warriors are clearly needed for the task.

New York has an outsourced cleaning industry which features companies with jolly names like “Molly Maids” and “PIG” which stands for “Partners in Grime”. When these companies drop the non-kosher acronyms and become armed with blowtorches, perhaps Pharaoh will “let these people come.”

Well, in truth, they do come.  They come a few times in succession to make sure that one team picked up where the first team may have been sloppy. At $400 a pop, the twelve cleaning tours of duty make a not so subtle reminder that we could have gone to a Passover program in the sun somewhere.

The cleaning troupes do not absolve me of cleaning (nor the sin of making Passover at home). My tasks are to lift and move large objects around the house in case a morsel of bread was carried there by a microscopic antisemitic mouse.  Dishwashers are pulled from their moorings. Refrigerators are yanked from the walls.  I am ordered to lift the island in the kitchen, until my rabbi steps in on my behalf (only because he thought I was too weak). My dog snickers at my misery.  He and I are back to break-even.

After eighteen gallons of bleach have been pored over every inch of the kitchen, and the flees on my dog would no longer consider smelling (let alone eating) anything in the house, my next task is assigned. Foiling.

Foiling on Pesach has nothing to do with fencing.  It involves rolling out aluminum foil over counter top. For the hardcore, the foiling of tables, chairs, cushions is warranted.  Our family is so famous for our foiling, that we get Happy Passover cards from Alcoa.

As the first seder arrives, Pharaoh starts to resemble my former wife again. The house is indeed clean enough that even Eliyahu would be impressed.  Family and friends gather around the table to recount the timeless story… of how no one in the shtetls had more than one pot and somehow made Passover.

As has become our tradition, before I recite the Kiddush to start the seder, my wife inverts the very order of the seder. She sings out in a loud, yet exhausted, teary voice “Hashana ha’ba’a b’Yerushayim” – Next year in Jerusalem. Everyone joins in.

 

Happy Birthday to the People of Israel

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The first song to be sung at the Passover Seder table tonight should be, “Happy, Birthday to us;  Happy Birthday dear People of Israel; Happy Birthday to us.”

The first time in history that Jews were referred to as the “People of Israel’ was when none other than Pharaoh said so, in Exodus (Shmot), Chapter 1, Verse 9:

He [Pharaoh] said to his people, ‘Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are.

The Jews left slavery in Egypt as the People of Israel in the year 2448, which is 3327 years ago, according  to calculations made by Serbian-born Eliezer Shulman when he was exiled to Siberia by the former Soviet Union.

Until Pharaoh’s paranoia, Jews were never referred to as a “people.” The fact that he saw the Jews as a people underscores the insecurity of his idol worshiping regime.

When Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, they were not representing themselves. They were speaking not only in the name of God but also in the name for the People of Israel, who eventually left Egypt and 40 years later entered the Land of Israel.

Similarly in Numbers (BaMidbar) chapter 22, Balak, the king of Moab, “became terrified of the people, for they were numerous.”

It is easier to confront individuals in a group than confront a group of individuals.

Historians and non-Jewish clerics always have wondered how the Jews have been able to survive the destruction of the Holy Temples, pogroms, exiles and the Holocaust.

They do not understand because they are not Jews, whose spiritual level of faith is inexplicable

Accompanying the faith is the unity of the Jewish people, who always have been strong when united and weak when divided.

The People of Israel won the right to the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 because they were “one,” regardless of observance, political views and tradition.

Some Jews in Israel opposed the establishment of the State of Israel, but once it became fact, it was the unity of the people that allowed it not only to survive but also to be happy and committed to Zionism during the difficult years of constant Arab attacks and economic hardships.

Leaving the country to live elsewhere was considered a shame on a family.

Israel now is an independent country, but it is not truly independent because the People of Israel, which includes Jews from all over the world, are far from unified.

There is a gap of light years between the differences of opinion within Israel and differences between Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora.

In ancient Egypt, there also were differences between Jews. Torah sages say that only 20 percent of the Jews left slavery. The rest were scoffers who preferred the security of slavery than the security of faith, which won the day.

It did then and it continues to do so today, no matter how much Jews in Diaspora claim they are “Zionists” by living outside Israel and demanding that the Jewish state serve their interests instead of those living in Israel.

We overcame Pharaoh, and this too, we will overcome.

 

Happy Birthday to us.

Arrested for a Pesach Sacrifice

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Even the Egyptians didn’t dare touch the Jews when they prepared their Pascal sacrifice.

But things are different now.

Hebron activist Noam Federman was arrested in Jerusalem’s Old City, along with his son on Friday afternoon, the eve of Passover.

In their possession was a lamb they intended to bring onto the Temple Mount to sacrifice as a Passover offering, as the Jews used to do, and one day, will do again.

Update – 3:11PM: Noam Federman’s son has been released.

Israel Welcomes 130,000 Tourists for Holidays

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The Tourism Ministry is expecting about 130,000 visitors in Israel over the period of Passover and the Christian Holy Week.

About 20 direct flights are expected in Ovdah airport in the Negev, bringing tourists from France, Russia and Britain to celebrate the Passover holidays in Eilat.

Tourism in Israel is experiencing an uplift since the dive in the number of tourists during and after last summer’s Operation Protective Edge campaign.

Hotel occupancy levels in most of the popular tourism areas will reach 80-90% during the holidays, with some areas completely full.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-welcomes-130000-tourists-for-holidays/2015/04/03/

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