Shabbat Shalom

Dear WJC Family,

As many of you know, I was privileged to participate in the UJA Federation Rabbinic mission to Israel two weeks ago. Since then so much has changed – the Prime Minister agreed to postpone the vote on the first section of the Judicial Reform Bill (regarding giving the Knesset majority the right to appoint Supreme Court judges,) which had been moving at breakneck speed. President Herzog has gathered the leaders of the majority and opposition parties to begin negotiations. While the break in tension and civil strife in Israel is welcome, the pause was only for one-month. We pray that good-faith negotiations will take place during that month, but without a change in the underlying factors – polarized politics, shifting demographics, historical grievances and pervasive fear of the “other side” – there is reason to suspect we will be in the same place a month from now as we were a week ago.

One of the things I keep saying about my experience in Israel is how humbling it was, how much less I knew about the convulsing societal rifts underlying the situation than I thought I knew. And I considered myself to be well-informed! So, I want to encourage you to spend this month-long pause learning as much as you can about the situation including, but not limited to, an Israeli civics lesson to understand how the government is currently formatted. I hope you will research and learn, not so that you can decide which “side” you are on, but rather so you can be better informed and able to support, as needed. The truth is that this situation is incredibly complicated (like all things Israel) and if you think this is a simple choice of “for Democracy” or “against Democracy” then it is probably worth digging deeper into the whole story. A good place to start might be viewing the virtual reflections a few of my colleagues and I presented for a UJA Federation program. You can watch that presentation by clicking here. I am also happy to speak about the situation or point you towards resources that help explain in more depth.

During this lull in the Israeli political situation, we will have the joy of celebrating Passover. To view our whole Passover calendar at a glance, you can click here and skip the next several paragraphs. The rest of this message is information and resources about the beginning of the holiday. Let’s start with the day before Passover:

On Tuesday night April 4 it is customary to ceremonially search your home for hametz (leavened products). Before than we are supposed to clean all of the hametz out of our house and “kasher everything for Pesach.” For the most recent guide regarding what is Kosher for Passover, how to kasher your kitchen, what needs a special Passover mark and so much more, you can reference the Rabbinical Assembly Passover Guide for 5773.

Then, Wednesday morning April 5th is Erev Pesach and the Fast of the First Born. We have several events that morning starting with minyan at 7am, immediately followed by a siyyum (I’ll be celebrating completion of a unit of Jewish learning), which will cancel the need for first born sons to fast. After that we will celebrate with a bagel breakfast – get that last hametz in before it’s too late! Finally all the kids are invited to come burn their hametz in our fire (in front of the synagogue) and get a delicious breakfast marshmallow at our annual Hametz Roast and Marshmallow Toast! See all the timing details below.

The last time we are allowed to eat hametz on Wednesday morning is 10:48am. It must all be burnt or “sold” by 11:53am. Speaking of which, if you’d like to sell your hametz through me, simply seal it away in a locked (or taped) cabinet or draw and fill out this electronic form.

Lastly, if you are looking for interesting takes on different sections of the haggadah to use at your seder, The Jewish Theological Seminary (my alma mater and current Grad School) created a great set of videos to watch, learn and present at your seder – just click to start exploring and planning Passover Learning – Jewish Theological Seminary. I have also provided my own take on one section of the seder in the video below. I hope these are all helpful.

One last thing—I will be out this Shabbat to officiate at a wedding. Due to Passover, there will be no video or message from me for a couple of weeks. So have a wonderful Shabbat and I look forward to seeing you in shul and hearing all about your seders.

Shabbat Shalom and have a zissen Pesach,


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