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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Seder’

Chabad Says ‘No Way We Won’t Make a Seder’ in Katmandu

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Chabad-Lubavitch officials say “there’s no way in the world, come Passover we will not make a seder for the thousands of Jews who are relying on us” this year in Katmandu, Nepal.

The statement comes in response to the statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor earlier in the week that there would be no seder this year due to the inability of Israel’s embassy to provide the supplies in time.

The embassy, along with every other Israeli Foreign Ministry facility, is closed to due to a general labor strike. The action follows a year-long struggle by ministry workers to convince the Finance Ministry to raise salaries and pension levels, particular for those who must work abroad.

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, director at the New York-based World Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters, reassured concerned travelers the internationally-renowned ‘Largest Seder in the World’ would take place as expected.

Actually, there are three: the main seder, held in Katmandu, hosts some 1,500 guests. Another 800 people generally show up for the Passover meal held in Pokhara, and a third seder is held by Chabad of Nepal in remote Manang, some 11,614 above sea level. Seder provisions and rabbinical students are airlifted to that location – inaccessible by road – by helicopter for the occasion.

A second seder for several hundred guests is held at the Chabad House in Katmandu on the second night of the holiday, during which special “kosher for Passover” foods are consumed.

At least 10,000 people will have joined emissaries Rabbi Chezki and Chani Lifshitz in Nepal for a Passover meal by the time the holiday is over, they estimate.

New York is backing the effort all the way.

“We are sending rabbinical students as we do every year to assist [the emissaries] and we are confident that we will find some kind of solution to this crisis so that the seders will take place as always,” Rabbi Kotlarsky told Lubavitch.com.

A shipping container filled with $40,000 worth of matzohs, wine, grape juice, haggadahs, kosher-for-Passover foodstuffs and other holiday necessities is sitting in the port at Calcutta, India but has yet to be released, according to Chabad officials.

Nevertheless, emissary Chani Lifshitz is confident things will work out as they do each year. “Anyone who knows us and the kinds of miracles that we survive on, knows that there’s no way in the world, come Passover, we will not make a seder for the thousands of Jews who are relying on us,” she said. But this year’s miracle will have to be extra-special – if the container is not released this week, supplies will need to arrive another way.

“Two weeks by sea from Calcutta, and two weeks by truck to Nepal,” Lifshitz explains, adding that Chabad of Nepal is also being billed $150 per day in holding fees at the port.

The “Largest Seder in the World’ has been taking place in Nepal for the past ten years – and the Chabad House in Katmandu has been likewise been the place to go for Israeli backpackers moving through Nepal. The Lifshitz couple was the inspiration for the popular Israeli television series “Katmandu” in 2012.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Foreign Ministry Says ‘No Choice’ on Closing Chabad’s Nepal Seder

Monday, March 24th, 2014

A general strike by Israel’s Foreign Ministry this year is having an unexpected effect on Jews thousands of miles away.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, the labor action has prevented the far-flung Israeli embassy from providing the much-needed goods for the Chabad-Lubavitch seder in Nepal — a world-famous event that draws nearly a thousand people annually to Katmandu. Chabad-Lubavitch representatives in Israel and New York could not be reached for comment.

Palmor said in an interview with The Jewish Press today (Monday), “The window is closed. I spoke with the ambassador yesterday and he explained they need a full month to be able to prepare for this event, and we are just three weeks away from Pesach.

“There is nothing that can be done about it,” he said.

But it’s not only the embassy in Nepal that has been affected by the strike. “Every embassy around the world is closed,” Palmor said.

“This means that every diplomatic function has been shut down. There are no diplomatic cables, no intelligence analyses or negotiations that we handle are being carried out, no visas or passports being processed, no public relations or other statements being made to foreign media in countries around the world – anything that has to do with foreign relations is stopped.”

The strike follows a year-long effort by Foreign Ministry workers to persuade the Finance Ministry to raise shrinking salaries and dropping pensions to “realistic levels.”

According to Palmor, the average gross monthly salary for a ministry worker hovers at around NIS 11,000 (approx. USD 3,000) – less than that of an experienced secretary in New York City. “In fact, an analyst makes less,” he said pointedly. “And if you add the expense of raising a family and the loss of a second income when the employee’s spouse must leave their job in Israel, for many of our staff it is simply not worth it to go abroad anymore. We are losing some of our best staff, and we have been unable to make government finance people come to their senses about this any other way.”

While ministry workers are struggling to wake up the Finance Ministry – and their own boss, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman – Chabad emissary Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz still has a problem. Regardless, he will have to figure out how to feed 1,000 people on the first night of Passover, April 14, in Katmandu, with all the kosher-for-Pesach supplies necessary to grace the longest seder table in the world.

Hana Levi Julian

Mini-Forest to be Planted in Tel Aviv on Tu B’Shvat

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Three-meter-long trees will be placed at Rabin Square to create a mini-forest in the center of Tel Aviv on Tu B’Shvat, which falls on Thursday this year.

Pupils from all over the city will come to celebrate the holiday by writing their wishes for this year and hanging them on the trees.

Traditionalists can still plant trees in events throughout the country sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The age of high-tech now enables people to “plant” a tee via a “click and plant” (and pay) program on the JNF’s website.

An ecological element has been added to the holiday in recent years with an emphasis on conservation.

Dried fruits are popular in Israel on Tu B’Shvat, but if you really want to be Zionist, you might have to stay away from the dried figs unless you can find the few that actually are picked and processed in Israel and not Turkey.

Those who want a trial run for the Passover Seder, or simply want to follow the Kabbalistic custom from the 16th or 17th century, can sit down with four cups of wine or grape juice for the Tu B’Shvat Seder, compiled by the Kabbalists from Tsfat (Safed).

Jewish Press News Briefs

A Very Obama Passover

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Ever since his first campaign for President, President Obama has been running a Passover Seder, in which he celebrates the holiday of the Israel’s freedom, along with staff members and their families.

Along with the Seder, President Obama released this official statement:

 

Statement from the President on Passover

As we prepare for our fifth Seder in the White House, Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Passover here in America, in the State of Israel, and around the world.

Tonight, Jewish families will gather with family and friends to celebrate with songs, wine, and food. They will read from the Haggadah, and retell the story that makes this holiday so powerful.

Last week, I visited the state of Israel for the third time, my first as President. I reaffirmed our countries’ unbreakable bonds with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I had the chance to speak directly with young Israelis about the future they wanted for their country, their region, and the world. And I saw once again how the dream of true freedom found its full expression in those words of hope from Hatikvah, lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzeinu, “To be a free people in our land.”

Passover is a celebration of the freedom our ancestors dreamed of, fought for, and ultimately won. But even as we give thanks, we are called to look to the future. We are reminded that responsibility does not end when we reach the promised land, it only begins. As my family and I prepare to once again take part in this ancient and powerful tradition, I am hopeful that we can draw upon the best in ourselves to find the promise in the days that lie ahead, meet the challenges that will come, and continuing the hard work of repairing the world. Chag sameach.

No news on freedom for Pollard.

Jewish Press Staff

Passover, Peace, And Palestine: An Arab-Style Seder In 1920s Long Island

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Passover at Irma Lindheim’s Long Island home in the 1920s was not your standard Jewish holiday experience.

There was plenty of matzah ball soup and brisket, to be sure. But the dining room was occupied by a makeshift tent, the Passover table was replaced by a pile of sheepskin rugs, and the Lindheim children were dressed in Arab garb. For Mrs. Lindheim – the national president of Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization, from 1926 to 1928 – Passover was an opportunity to make a dramatic statement about what she perceived as the common heritage of Arabs and Jews and her hopes for peace in Palestine.

The path that led to Irma Lindheim’s unique Passover Seders began during a trip to the Holy Land shortly after World War I. A visit to a Bedouin encampment near the Syrian border deeply impressed her. The sheik received her “so courteously,” the wives of his harem were so attractive, his children were so charming, the ample food was “so delicious in taste and aroma,” that Mrs. Lindheim had to wonder, as she put it, “Under what possible circumstances could such people and I possibly be enemies?”

In Mrs. Lindheim’s eyes, the Arabs of Palestine closely resembled the Jews of biblical times – so surely they should all be able to get along. She marveled at the fact that her host “pulled off my boots himself, and laved my feet with cool water, [just] as Abraham had done with the three strangers,” as recounted in Genesis 18:1-4.

“The customs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were customs of the present-day Bedouin,” she wrote. “When Abraham sat before his tent in the heat of the day…he did no differently than a Bedouin sheikh we encountered, resting before his tent in the Plains of the Huleh.”

As her personal contribution to the cause of Arab-Jewish amity, Mrs. Lindheim decided to radically revise her own Passover Seders. Her children “would wear the robes of the desert Bedouin and would eat their meal in a tent… to commemorate not only the flight of their forebears from slavery to freedom, but also bonds with the Arab people who lived now exactly as their forefathers lived then.”

On their first such Passover, “young Norvin [her eldest son] stood, tall and darkly handsome in his Bedouin robes,” to recite the story of the exodus before a group that included Sir Wyndham Deeds, first secretary of the British government in Mandatory Palestine, and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the foremost American Jewish leader of that era. Wise was a renowned orator, and “his beautiful great voice boomed out” as the hosts and their guests all joined in reading sections of the Haggadah. Lindheim’s youngest son, Stephen, who was named after Wise, recited the Four Questions.

“To the children, to ourselves, and to our many guests,” she later recalled, “the Seder [was] at once an unforgettable experience in itself and, in its way, a family landmark.”

But Mrs. Lindheim was not content with symbolic gestures such as her unorthodox Passover Seders. She and the Hadassah organization undertook a series of projects in Mandatory Palestine aimed at improving Arab-Jewish ties, including providing free health care to Arab communities, establishing the U.S. Jewish leadership’s only Committee for the Study of Arab-Jewish Relations, and building the first Jewish-Arab playground in Jerusalem.

Generously funded by Mrs. Lindheim’s aunt, Bertha Guggenheimer, the Zion Hill playground opened near the Zion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City in 1926, complete with supervisors trained by the American Playground Association.

Sadly, it did not last long.

In the late summer of 1929, Arab residents of Hebron and Jerusalem carried out widespread anti-Jewish violence. Since the Zion Hill playground was situated in a predominantly Arab neighborhood, the supervisors, fearing for the children’s safety, quickly shut down the facility. Two months later, when they returned to the site to reopen it, they were horrified to find local Arab children painting slogans such as “Down with the Jews” and “Down with the Balfour Declaration” on the equipment and walls.

Although one of the goals of the playground had been to promote good relations with the local Arab residents, chief supervisor Rachel Schwarz found that “amongst the Arab neighbors are many who took an active part in recent riots and are very active at present in the [anti-Jewish] boycott.”

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Obama to Impersonate Pharaoh at White House Seder

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

President Barack Obama once again will hold a Passover Seder in the White House, perhaps a bit more serious than year’s National Jewish Democratic Council’s ego-centric desecration of the Four Questions, which his aides re-invented to glorify the Commander in Chief.

After “Preacher Obama’s” revival appearance in Israel, he is likely to take more seriously the Passover Seder tradition this year and is even more likely to come up with his own interpretations and meaning of the Seder.

For a man who had the chutzpah to tell synagogue worshippers in Florida during his 2008 presidential campaign that he is “blessed,” as indicated by his name “Baruch” that he said means “Blessed” in Hebrew, he will have no trouble in skipping over 2,000 years of Talmudic study of the Exodus of the Jewish People that led us to Mount Sinai and eventually to the Land of Israel.

Somehow, he will dig into the deeper meaning of Passover and declare that God brought the Jews to Israel to divide the homeland and give most of it to the Palestinian Authority, whose Muslim clerics also have done a nifty job of rewriting ancient Bible. According to them, the Binding of Yitzchak (Isaac) is the wrong version, and it was Ishmael who was bound. If you believe that, then of course the Holy Temples never existed and the Western Wall was Mohammed’s hitching post.

The problem with President Obama’s annual Seder ceremony, as evidenced by his “I believe” Hallelujah speech in Jerusalem, is that he truly does believe he knows better than anyone else, certainly better than Israelis, better than Arabs and better than Talmudic sages.

We would be better off if he were to run a repeat performance of last year’s travesty, when the “Four Questions, designed to educate Jewish children about the Seder, turned into a mockery of the president’s intelligence.

In case anyone forgets, the questions posed by the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) were: Why has President Obama provided record amounts of military aid to Israel?”; “Why has President Obama worked so hard and succeeded at uniting the world against Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program?”; “Why has President Obama achieved the historic passage of ‘Obamacare’”?; and, “Why has President Obama fought to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid?”

Commentary Magazine’s Jonathan Tobin wrote last year, “Passover is the occasion for Jews to remember their liberation from Egypt and to embrace not only the gift of freedom but also the ability to worship God and His laws as a people.

”While Seders are appropriate moments to remember those in need as well as other Jewish communities — such as that in Israel — which are assailed by foes, it is not the time to be delivering obsequious paeans to American politicians, no matter which party they belong to. That sort of absurd distortion of the festival of freedom bears a closer resemblance to idol worship than it does to Judaism.”

President Obama is not paying any attention to Tobin. In his pre-Passover sermon at the Jerusalem Convention Center last Thursday, he said, “The Seder… is a story about finding freedom in your own land. For the Jewish people, this story is central to who you have become. But it is also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering and salvation. It is a part of the three great religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – that trace their origins to Abraham, and see Jerusalem as sacred….

“To African-Americans, the story of the Exodus told a powerful tale about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity – a tale that was carried from slavery through the civil rights movement.”

After invoking a quote by Martin Luther King relating to Moses and Joshua, President Obama continued to the next obvious step – the Palestinian Authority.

President Obama’s inevitable reference to the Palestinian cause when he sits down for his version of the Seder with 20 chosen guests this week will be accompanied by everything that is totally the opposite of the message of the Seder, and that is materialism.

The matzah is the simplest of foods, unleavened bread. Jew lived on Manna during their sojourn in the desert. No cheeseburgers, no ice cream and not even meat, except for the plague that swept the Jews when they demanded meat and the quickly became sorry for what they wished.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Passover 5773-2013 Is Around the Corner

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Following is the essential Passover set of reminders, if you will. We strongly recommend that you consult a rabbi or a friend or a friendly rabbi for any one of these items which may cause you anxiety. Obviously, one can spend all the time starting after Hanukah in preparation for Passover, but most of us don’t.

Passover—Pesach, the Jewish festival celebrating our redemption from slavery in Egypt in the 1250s BCE, begins on the 14th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, which is in spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and this year begins at sunset, Monday, March 25.

Passover  is celebrated for seven days in Israel, eight days everywhere else. It is one of the top four Jewish holidays celebrated in America, alongside Hanukah, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur.

Passover-Pesach is unique among the holidays on the Jewish calendar in its prohibition against chametz, which is defined as five types of grains that have been combined with water and left to stand for more than eighteen minutes—the renowned “leavening” or fermentation. This includes bread and cake, but also a very long list of products, not all of them foodstuff.

The consumption, keeping, and owning of chametz is forbidden during Passover.

A typical observant Jewish home combines several means of dealing with this prohibition (you’ll be amazed how much of your physical space is mired in chametz):

1. A thorough scrubbing of all the areas in the home where food will be produced or consumed. The ground rule here is that the chametz should be removed in a manner similar to the way it was introduced—if it was through heat, then the particular utensil should be cleaned and heated for a period of up to one hour, and so on.

2. Covering all the areas where food is produced or consumed with paper, plastic, or aluminum foil sheets.

3. Storing all the chametz products of value (think single malt whiskey) in designated areas which are sealed until after Passover. Those areas are then sold through a special broker to a gentile for the duration of the holiday. You can also do it over the Internet, check out any one of these chametz sale websites.

4. On the eve of Passover, the head of the family checks the entire domicile for chametz, after which they recite an announcement that any chametz stuff that has not been discovered and eliminated no longer belongs to them (see it in the early pages of your Passover Haggadah).

After sunset, Monday, March 25, we all sit down around the seder table, to read the Haggadah, drink 4 cups of wine and eat our first bite of Matzah. This should take us well into the night, when we eat the Afikoman.

If you’re in the diaspora, you get to do the whole thing a second time on Tuesday evening. In Israel you enter the Chol Hamoed-intermediary days of Passover a day early. The holiday will be over in Israel on Monday night, April 1, and elsewhere on Tuesday night, April 2.

Please use the comments to add anything we may have skipped – remember, we were shooting for the essentials.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/passover-5773-2013-is-around-the-corner/2013/03/10/

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