In the Torah, shmura matzah — watched or guarded matzah — is one of the primary mitzvot of Passover. “You shall guard the matzot” (Ex. 12:17) is the commandment that guides the production of unleavened bread, protected from harvesting to baking, to ensure that the combination of water and flour do not remain together beyond 18 minutes, when forbidden chametz forms.
Ma nishtana halaylah hazeh mekol halailot? — Why is this night different from all other nights?” This question, asked at virtually every Passover seder the world over, has four traditional answers. However, one could suggest a fifth answer: “On all other nights we are not required to drink more than one cup of wine, but tonight we must drink four cups.”
Jerusalem — Yossi Oren says he isn’t worried that Iraq will attack Israel with conventional, biological or chemical weapons.
“The situation is a lot better now than it was seven years ago,” asserts the 43-year-old Jerusalemite, referring to the 1991 Gulf War. During that six-week battle, Iraq lobbed 39 Scud missiles at Israel.
“Today,” Oren continues, “Israel has more sophisticated tools to destroy missiles. And anyway, I don’t think any Scuds will fall.”
IIn a bid for American youth to take Israel less seriously, Birthright Israel has launched its first just-for-laughs trip to the Holy Land in time for Purim.
The Mirthright Israel tour will include a long stay at Moshav cHA cHA and a tour of both of Israel’s comedy clubs, one of which is not located at an army base.
Facilitated by Zany Zion Tours, the trip will also feature performances by leading Israeli comic Simcha Shpritz, best known for his imitation of his fellow countrymen trying to line up politely while waiting for a bus.
This coming Shabbat will mark our annual observance of Shabbat Zachor, so named because of its command to remember the treachery of ancient Amalek against the Israelites. Shabbat Zachor is always observed on the Shabbat before Purim, since tradition teaches that the evil Haman was a descendant of Amalek.
"A rabbi walks into a bar..." Laughter usually follows; it's practically guaranteed if the rabbi brings along seven comedians who've earned their chops writing for shows like "Saturday Night Live" and appearing on the downtown alternative comedy circuit.
No tinsel, no Santa, no carols, no nog. Some Jews feel they're missing out on the fun of Christmastime. Sure, there are alternatives like Chinese-food-and-a-movie or Matzah Ball dances - the ethnic equivalent of artificial snow. These activities capture the season's festive mood without drawing on its Christian origins.
Last Sunday’s New York Times declared that Jewish life on the Lower East Side was in its death throes. Meanwhile, a gathering at the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue proved that, at least in some corners, the neighborhood’s Jewish activity was not yet gone, just showing its age.
A group of about a dozen poets aged 65 and older, and an audience twice their number, had gathered in the 115-year-old sanctuary that mellow morning for the Eldridge Street Project’s second annual Poetry Slam for Seniors.