Special Sections

Ten Choices For The Four Cups

New wines to brighten up your holiday table.
Special To The Jewish Week
04/04/2011 - 20:00

As April nears every year, it is not only accountants who find themselves in an annual crunch. The month between Purim and Passover is the busiest period of the year for those who work in the ever-growing kosher wine industry. Wine producers and importers rush to get their new wines to market, and many wine merchants will sell more kosher wine during this four-week period than they sell in the other 48 weeks of the year combined.

These new wines, from Israel and the United States, are among a crop of new products that reach the market in time for the seder

A ‘Knead’ To Bake

Proponents of handmade matzah hope to reclaim a mostly lost practice.
Special To The Jewish Week
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Every spring, after she finishes scrubbing and scraping the kitchen for Passover, Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder can’t help but rejoice. But for her, the celebration isn’t merely a private utterance of gratitude, but a full-blown party: an annual matzah-baking bash, which includes a dozen or so friends and their children kneading and rolling and pricking and baking — and a fair amount of nibbling too.

Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, at one of her matzah-making parties. Courtesy of Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder

Passover 5771

A Jewish Week Special Section - The Taste of Freedom: Passover 5771
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Passover 5771: Retelling the Story, Haggadah publishing trends, tweeting the seder, keeping the second seder fresh.

 

Passover 5771

Journal Watch

04/04/2011 - 20:00

Of all the arcana of Jewish life, that most universal instrument, the Jewish calendar, is one of the more enigmatic. Solar? Lunar? Length of month? Two days of a holiday, or one? What about the “leap month”? And whence derives our calendar? Ancient Judaea/Palestine? Babylonia? The Tanakh? The Talmud?

Judaism For The Star-Struck

Can the zodiac be integrated into the Jewish tradition?
04/04/2011 - 20:00

When my great-nephew Owen arrived in the world in January, there was a collective spate of “Your constellation is good!” OK, we shortened the sentiment to “mazal tov!” but the meaning was the same. We were congratulating the new parents on their mazal (from Akkadian, “location of a star”), luck that’s credited to the stars and has nothing to do with merit. Which begs the question: Is there mazal for Jews?

Zodiac painting from the ceiling of the Bialystoker Synagogue, New York. 	PHOTO BY MICHAEL DATIKASH

Good Samaritans

Israel’s smallest religious minority offers Jews a glimpse of what might have been.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

What would the Jews look like had they not been exiled to the four corners of the earth, had they gone untainted — but also unenriched — by the cultures in which they tarried? Imagine Jews who retained their fierce attachment to the Torah and the faith of their fathers, but without the rabbinic response to displacement.

Over The Moon

Rosh Hodesh, Susan B. Anthony and the teenage girl.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

I recently attended my daughter’s fifth grade American Heritage Ceremony. The students researched how various important documents from American history were created and then wrote and performed in skits about what they learned. One group was assigned the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Ancient Jewish Computers

In perfecting Judaism’s complex, lunisolar calendar, the Rabbis likely relied on advanced mathematics.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

Passover, the Bible tells us (Exodus 34:18), is Hag Hamatzot (Holiday of The Matzot) whose time is Mo’ed HaAviv, a spring festival, that begins on the 15th day of Nisan, on the night of a full moon after the vernal equinox (“Tekufat HaShana”), following the Passover sacrifice on the 14th.

It’s an unusually precise specification. To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the first day of Nisan would not start until the barley is ripe, that being the test for the onset of spring.

DAVID FRIEDMAN, Numbers, 2011, 	acrylic and ink on paper 11”x 14.”

To Every Food There Is A Season

Jewish eating connects us, literally, to our roots in the land.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

It was on a trip to the Sinai many years ago around the time of Shavuot that my eyes were opened to the fascinating cycles of the year. Kids and lambs were everywhere, nursing from their mothers. Bedouins were busy making cheese from the leftover milk, which they later dried and salted to save for the long winter when little milk would be available. Little tufts of green herbs — what we would call weeds — peeked out through the earth, to be consumed by the animals and people in the area. In the desert where so little grows, life is so deeply appreciated when it finally appears.

Israel, c. 1955. Courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee .

A Tale Of Two Shoah Trials

After watching Eichmann on TV at 13, she found herself, decades later, in a London courtroom battling Holocaust denial.
04/04/2011 - 20:00

From “The Eichmann Trial,” published by Nextbook/Schocken. Reprinted courtesy of Schocken Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Copyright © 2011 Deborah E. Lipstadt.

On April 11, 1961, the theater of Beit Ha’am, Jerusalem’s brand-new cultural center, was packed. Over 700 people filled the room for the trial of a man accused of being the chief operational officer of the Final Solution.

Justicia with scales. Sefer evronot, 1583. Courtesy of the Library of the Jewish 	Theological Seminary.
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