A combination of lower airfares and a variety of incentive deals for cash-strapped foreign tourists has most probably saved the Israeli hotel industry from one of the worst Passover seasons in recent memory.
But the extra effort to lure foreign tourists to Israeli hotels for nine- and 10-day holiday packages, which like Sukkot account for a significant portion of annual profits, seems to have come at the expense of marketing the annual summer excursions.
Every year, my father begins his seder with a story about the year that he, my mother and I were in South America. We were in Montevideo, Uruguay; Passover was only five days away and we had no seder plans. On Friday night, he went to one of the two shuls in town, hoping that he might meet someone who would invite us to his or her home for a seder. No one spoke to him. The next morning, he went to the other shul across town. Right away, he was greeted by the rabbi who promptly invited him over for lunch.
With Pesach in our communal rear view mirror, there is precious little room for us to kick back and relax. Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Memorial Day- is already upon us, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel is to be celebrated next week. It is an incredibly dense stretch of the Jewish calendar, taking us on an emotional roller coaster ride from the high of Passover redemption to the low of the Shoah, and back again to the exhilaration of the miracle of Israel’s birth.
Though so many people go away for Pesach these days, we congregational rabbis tend to stay at home, for the most obvious reason. Leaving for a holiday is not really in the job description of a pulpit rabbi, unless you have lots of clergy on staff to cover you. So, with more that a little wistfulness, my wife and I watched a few weeks ago as many of our friends left for here and there- little cleaning, no shopping!!!- and we went about welcoming our children home and hosting both seders, as we have for many years, each for somewhere near twenty-five people.
Yes, it’s that time again. We can no longer hide from the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Passover is less than a week away, and there is no avoiding the inevitable hysteria that it generates. I remember how, as a young child, this was my favorite time of year. Ah, youth…
In what was, in retrospect, a striking metaphor for this Hebrew month of Nisan, a congregant asked me at services last night whether it was permissible to distribute special memorial candles for Yom Hashoah- Holocaust Commemoration Day- during these concluding days of Passover.
To phrase his question another way- can we disturb the sacred obligation to celebrate our ancient redemption with a jarring reminder of contemporary exile and destruction?
Thursday, July 31st, 2008
An interesting footnote to Obama’s letter in the Kotel is not only how relatively new the custom is, beginning in the 1700s, but how dramatically the concept of the Kotel has changed in that time period.
Sunday, April 13th, 2008
As we say during Passover’s Prayer for Dew, “With His consent, I shall speak of mysteries.”
The death by lightning’s fire of Scarsdale’s Rabbi Jacob Rubenstein and his wife, Deborah, in the midnight hours of Shabbat April 12, were strangely a reminder of how wonderful this world is.