For Aca Singer, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, preparing for the seder this year is the least of his worries.
“Only a very few people will have seders at home this year,” he said in a phone interview from his home in Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital. “The seder is not our main concern. We have a bigger problem — the war.”
After an explosion at a dining hall at an American military base in Iraq killed 22 in December 2004, military dining facilities in the region imposed strict rules against anyone bringing in bags or boxes — except when Rabbi Sarah Schechter tried to enter with a bag of matzah and a box of kosher-for-Passover food.
“They are very strict about this,” Rabbi Schechter said, adding that the guard who stopped her was very apologetic but insistent.
For the first time, the U.S. military is providing Jewish servicemen and women with complete kosher-for-Passover meals for all eight days of Passover.
“This year the military has gone way above anything it had done before to make sure that Passover and its religious components will be observed by anyone who wishes to observe them,” said Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, chief chaplain of the New York National Guard. “The Jewish community should not feel that Jewish service members” are being neglected.
Man, oh man, is this Haggadah different.
Forget frogs and boils and darkness over the land. The 10 Plagues in this Haggadah include prostate cancer, weight gain, hair loss and impotence.
This Haggadah still has the Four Questions, but each has a gender-bender twist. For instance, “Why is it that no matter how old I get, I don’t understand women?”
Call it the 11th Plague.
As food prices nationwide rise at a rapid clip — an expected 3.5 to 4.5 percent this year on top of a 4 percent increase last year — Jews are being hit with a double whammy because of Passover, when kosher food prices are generally higher anyway.
At the first seders of this second Depression I’m looking for a seat next to Bobby McGee. We’re celebrating holy freedom but for too many, on a temporal level, “freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” Too many of us have taken a hit. Freedom this week means opening doors when no one is knocking, looking into the night, seeing Elijah in the shadows, waiting for the wandering angel of the down-and-out, watching his cup for ripples of a sip.
Did you observe Passover? The Huffington Post (April 9) headlined a piece by Rabbi Michael Lerner, “Pharaohs Can’t Celebrate Passover.” If you supported Israel’s Gaza war, the pharaoh is you. According to several recent political cartoons, if you support Israel, Hitler is you, too.