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May 6, 2016 / 28 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Passover’

80,000 Israelis Celebrate Passover in National Parks

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Some 80,000 Israelis spent the first day of the Passover holiday Saturday visiting the country’s national parks and forests.

Israeli officials ask the public to please be sure to pick up after themselves while enjoying the beautiful weather and nature reserves, so that others can enjoy the same environment too.

Last year during the Passover holiday, a total of one million Israeli and foreign tourists visited the various parks and nature reserves around the country.

Hana Levi Julian

The Fountainheads Passover Song

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Video of the Day

Selling the Chometz

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau (R), Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (2L), and Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon sell the Chametz (food containing leavening) of the state of Israel to Arab Israeli Mr. Jaber (L) before the upcoming Passover holiday, April 21, 2016.

Photo of the Day

Netanyahu Meets With Putin in Moscow 1 Day Before Passover

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow Thursday morning for a quick pre-Passover meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

According to the prime minister’s office, on the agenda were advanced weapons sales to Iran, and the situation in Syria, continued coordination between the military forces of the two nations in Syria, a discussion about the peace efforts in the country, and prevention of advanced weapons access for the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group.

During his visit to Moscow last month, President Reuven Rivlin asked Putin to help re-establish the presence in the Golan Heights, between Israel and Syria, of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force. The reason: a developing vacuum is making it easier for Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies to infiltrate the former no-man’s-land and set up a base for attacks against the Jewish State.

Rivlin told Putin that such activity was a red line for Israel, according to Channel 2 news. Putin extended an invitation to Netanyahu to visit Moscow during that visit with Rivlin.

Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin, born in Ukraine, accompanied the prime minister. Other members of the delegation included Israel Air Force Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, National Security Council Director Avriel Bar Yosef, Military Secretary to the Prime Minister Col. Eliezer Toledano and the head of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Hana Levi Julian

Trump Vodka Bottles Seized in Passover Scam

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Haifa (TPS) – Hundreds of bottles of Trump Vodka were seized by Israeli police for bearing phony “Kosher for Passover” labels in advance of the upcoming holiday, a police spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Police raided the storage room of “a known alcohol distributor in downtown Haifa” and found hundreds of Trump Vodka bottles with forged Passover-friendly stickers on them, the spokesperson said. Three people were detained for questioning on suspicion of having pasted the phony labels on the drink.

Vodka is typically made from fermented grain, a product forbidden on the Jewish holiday during which no leavened bread may be eaten. Trump Vodka, by contrast, is made from potatoes.

Wednesday’s raid and arrests were made following a report by the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post exposing the Passover Trump Vodka scam.

“We discovered that instead of one of the ingredients that was supposed to be kosher for Passover, they used a different one,” the report quoted Rabbi David Silverstone of the OK Kosher certification organization.

Trump Vodka, which bears the brand of US billionaire and presidential candidate Donald Trump, has been out of business for years in most parts of the world. Nevertheless, the beverage has gained unlikely popularity in Israel for one week per year in the niche market of kosher-for-Passover vodkas.

Trump sued the Israeli company producing Trump Vodka in 2011 in a licensing dispute yet eventually settled the case. “Israel’s demand for high quality products and attraction to powerful brand names is a wonderful platform for the Trump brand,” the company said in a press release on Trump.com.

Donald Trump touted the alleged success of Trump Vodka—alongside Trump Steaks and Trump Water—in his victory speech following the Florida Republican primary in March.

“It was a successful product, which continues to be popular abroad,” Trump said of his vodka in a statement to Bloomberg on Wednesday.

With the latest pre-Passover police raid, however, a few hundred bottles of the beverage have been taken off the Israeli market.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Naomi Shemer’s Passover

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Celebrated as the “First Lady of Israeli Song,” the prolific Naomi Shemer (1930-2004) is perhaps best known for writing and composing the much-beloved “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”), which became in essence a second Israeli national anthem; indeed, many Israelis actually lobbied to have it officially replace Hatikvah.

Her 200 songs include the most popular song of the Yom Kippur War, “Lu Yehi” (“Let it Be”), which began as a translation of the Beatles’ song by that name and evolved into an independent sensation. When, in 1983, she was awarded the Israel Prize for her significant contribution to Israeli music, her citation read:

The Israel Prize is awarded to Naomi Shemer for her songs, which everyone sings, because of their poetic and musical merit and the wonderful blend of lyrics and music, and also because they express the emotions of the people.

The ethereal “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” has extraordinary historical import, as many commentators assert that the song is fundamentally responsible for generating broad national readiness to conquer the Old City. Secular paratroopers at the Western Wall didn’t pray, but they sang the song, and it also succeeded in raising the hopes of Jewish refuseniks in Soviet Russia.

During the nineteen years of Israeli statehood preceding the Six-Day War, popular songs were rarely written about yearning for Jerusalem until “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” broke the mold in 1967, when Shemer was asked to compose a song for the Israel Song Festival.

The song, written just before the Six-Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem, reflected the collective Israeli consciousness and spoke uniquely to Israel’s longing for its historic capital. Following the war, Shemer composed a fourth stanza, a celebration of the liberation of the Old City and the road to Jericho, and the anthem became an international testimonial to united Jerusalem.

According to Shemer, the idea for “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” started with a childhood recollection of the Talmudic story of the poverty-stricken Rabbi Akiva in a hayloft with his beloved wife, Rachel, who had been disowned by her fabulously wealthy father for marrying him. While lovingly pulling strands of hay out of her hair, he promises her that he would become wealthy one day and would buy for her a “Jerusalem of Gold” (an item of jewelry).

For the song’s melody, Shemer drew from the chassidic melodies and Yiddish songs of her father, who had emigrated to Eretz Yisrael from Vilna, and added touches of biblical cantillation.

Shemer was born on Kvuzat Kinneret and grew up overlooking the Jordanian shores, and many of her songs create nostalgic and idealized biblical landscapes that evoke the beloved countryside of her youth and reflect her love of Eretz Yisrael. She wrote and/or composed more than two hundred songs, many enhanced by references to Jewish literature, with which she was broadly knowledgeable, as she drew equally from the sacred writings and modern Hebrew poets.

Shemer maintained her great popularity despite taking public positions on many of the most controversial issues of the day, including her criticism of the government for ordering Israel’s evacuation of the Sinai; her keen support for the Gush Emunim settlement movement; and her bitter disappointment at Israel’s withdrawal from Yamit in the Sinai. Though in 1980 she composed “Al Kol Eleh” (“About All These”) for her sister Ruthie, who had lost her husband, the song took on a political cast when it was later appropriated as a battle hymn by the Yamit evacuees because of a line pleading: “Do not uproot what has been planted!” Though the Israeli left bitterly condemned Shemer, even going so far as to criticize “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” as s “racist,” her songs remained popular across the broad Israeli spectrum.

Saul Jay Singer

A Rabbi’s Unusual Passover Message: ‘Eat Bread and Save Jews’

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

{Originally posted to the United with Israel website}

Ordinarily, a rabbi would be impressed to hear that a Jewish congressman had taken matzohs with him to an international conference that took place during the week of Passover.

Meyer Nurenberger, however, was not at all impressed by Congressman Sol Bloom’s boast about bringing matzohs to the Anglo-American conference on the refugee problem, held in Bermuda in April 1943.

It was the peak of the Holocaust. The Allies had confirmed that the mass murder of European Jewry was underway, but refused to take any concrete action to intervene.

To counter mounting public criticism of their hands-off policy, the British and American governments announced they would discuss the issue in a conference on the island of Bermuda, far from the prying eyes of demonstrators and the news media. Their intention was that “it will take place practically in secret, without pressure of public opinion,” the Zionist leader Nahum Goldmann surmised.

Congressman Sol Bloom of New York City, a former vaudeville entertainer, chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee and strongly supported President Roosevelt’s restrictionist immigration policy. When Bloom was chosen as a member of the American delegation to the Bermuda conference, many in the Jewish community saw the choice as a ploy to deflect criticism of U.S. refugee policy. Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long privately wrote in his diary that he chose Bloom because the congressman was known to be “easy to handle” and “terribly ambitious for publicity.”

The conference lasted 12 days, yet neither the U.S. delegation nor their British counterparts managed to come up with any serious rescue plans. The Roosevelt administration would not agree to the use of any trans-Atlantic ships to transport refugees, not even troop supply ships that were returning from Europe empty. There would be no increase in the number of refugees admitted to the United States. And the British refused to discuss Palestine as a possible refuge, because of Arab opposition. When the conference adjourned, the two governments decided to keep the proceedings of the conference secret, to mask how little they had achieved.

Congressman Bloom, however, announced that “as a Jew,” he was “perfectly satisfied” with the results. In his autobiography, published after the war, Bloom continued to defend the outcome of the Bermuda conference, arguing that any announcement of aid to the Jews would have led “to intensified persecutions.” Congressman Emanuel Celler (D-New York) characterized Bloom as “a sycophant of the State Department.”

Cong. Sol Bloom

Cong. Sol Bloom

Rabbi-turned-journalist, Meyer Nurenberger

Rabbi-turned-journalist, Meyer Nurenberger

 

It was shortly after Bermuda that Bloom encountered Meyer Nurenberger. The Polish-born Nurenberger, who had earned rabbinic ordination but opted for a career in journalism, arrived in the U.S. in 1939 and began working as a reporter and columnist for the Morgen Zhurnal, a leading Yiddish daily.

As Nurenberger later recalled, Bloom “told me that he took along matzohs when he left for Bermuda—it was the Passover season—because he was such a good Jew. So I told him that I thought it would have been more important for him to eat bread there and save some Jews rather than to eat matzohs. He was very angry and told me he was through talking to me.”

I asked Nurenberger’s daughter, the Canadian-Israeli journalist Atara Beck, about her father’s unusual choice of words. “My father was an ordained Orthodox rabbi, and of course he would never have wanted any Jew to eat bread on Passover,” she said. “He was making a point—and it was a powerful moral point—saving lives is more important than rituals such as eating matzoh. Every Jew, even a congressman, needs to be reminded of that from time to time.”

Nurenberger later cited a Talmudic anecdote to explain the phenomenon of prominent Jews who were more interested in fame and honor—such as serving on a U.S. government delegation—than in their welfare of the Jewish people. Nurenberger called it the “Mi BeRosh” [‘Who will be first?’] Syndrome.”

The anecdote, which appears in tractate Sanhedrin, concerns a Jewish king, Jeroboam, who caused a division of the Jewish commonwealth and even introduced idol worship, yet was given one last chance to repent. When Jeroboam died, the Talmud relates, God said to him, “If you repent, you and I and the Messiah will stroll together in the Garden of Eden.” To which Jeroboam replied, Mi beRosh? Who will be the one to walk at the head of the line? When God replied that Messiah would walk first, Jeroboam responded that he would not repent.

To which Nurenberger added this poignant commentary: “Since the days of Jeroboam, Mi BeRosh? has been the primary cause of lost opportunities and the greatest tragedies in Jewish history. Who will march at the front?  Who will sit on the dais? Who will be Man of the Year? Who will be the leader? Who will deliver the main speech? Who will introduce whom at a meeting? Who will be applauded by the ladies’ auxiliary? Mi beRosh? How many Jews would have been saved during World War II if it had not been for Mi beRosh?”

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/a-rabbis-unusual-passover-message-eat-bread-and-save-jews/2016/04/19/

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