This year's installment of the Seder Trivia Game.
3 unusual stories of Pesach in the news .... two are true, one is false. (If you follow the Jewish news closely, this one won't be too hard.) Previous years' Seder Trivia Games are on elsewhere on my blog.
One of the most unusual moments of the Jewish year happens on the day before Passover, when the rabbi of the communitysells the community’s Hametz products to a non-Jew, so it will not be owned by Jews over Pesach. After the holiday is over, the sale is reversed and the Hametz is returned to the people in the Jewish community.
This year, one midwestern Orthodox rabbi was pondering to whom to sell his community’s Hametz -- and he came up with an idea. he thought of a person who was internationally renowned for identifying wise and somewhat unusual investments. His name, of course, is Warren Buffett.
So this rabbi of the Jewish community of Omaha, Nebraska wrote a letter to Warren Buffett, the legendary investor and one of the wealthiest people in the world, to pitch this investment opportunity to him. Buy Hametz from Jews before Pesach - which is a time when Jews are desperately trying to get rid of their Hametz, so presumably the price would be low. Then, sell the Hametz back to the Jews at the end of Pesach, when Jews are craving Hametz -- presumably the price would be high.
Warren Buffet wrote back and said he was very interested in this investment. And this why, as of late last week, Buffett’s diversified portfolio includes hundreds of millions of shares of stock in many of the world’s leading companies -- and also includes a lot of flour, crackers, pasta, whiskey and beer in Omaha.
Did you know that the snow monkeys at the Central Park Zoo celebrate Pesach?
Well, really they celebrate the few days before Pesach.
Zookeepers at the zoo noticed several years ago that the monkeys were growing listless and lazy and refusing to eat their dinner, during one week each April.
They discovered the culprits: Jews, visiting the zoo the week before Pesach, feeding the animals their remaining hametz.
Baffled zoo staff note that the snow monkeys are the main beneficiaries of the pre-holiday pig-out, apparently because the polar bear’s glass wall is too high, and the sea lions would only be interested if offered gefilte fish.
The small, pink-faced snow monkeys (Japanese macaques) may not mind the interruption to their grooming routine and carefully prepared diet of fruits, greens, and nuts, but their caretakers sure do. The real risk for the animals in eating too much people food is that they will get fat and lazy. Often the monkeys become so sated after their pre-Passover feast that they won’t go inside later for dinner.
So now, the zoo staff is told to be on special lookout for zoo guests feeding the animals during the week before Passover each year.
The Central Park Zoo gets even more observant Jewish families visiting during the middle four days of Passover, when the kids are out of school. Zookeepers report that the guests sometimes throw matzo to the animals, but -- surprise of surprises -- none of the animals eat it.
Every year brings a new celebrity Haggadah. This year, the Haggadah that everybody’s talking about is the “New American Haggadah,” edited by novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, with a new English translation by short-story writer Nathan Englander.
But what is making everyone take notice of this Haggadah are the commentaries written by various Jewish celebrities, including some who are rather disconnected from Jewish life.
Who better to write a humorous commentary of the Four Questions than the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, who asks such provocative questions to his guests every night.
For a commentary on the agonizing Ten Plagues, they decided to ask the most angst-ridden American Jewish celebrity, filmmaker Woody Allen, to contribute a commentary, in tribute to the Seder scene in his film “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” This marks the very first time that Woody Allen has participated in a specifically religious Jewish initiative in his career.
And another commentator is Jerry Seinfeld, who wrote about the Four Children through the lens of his long-running TV show. As Jerry sees it: the wise child is Jerry; the wicked child is George; the simple child is Elaine; and the one who never bothers to ask -- is Kramer.
Stories #1 and #2 are true. (Story #2 was covered in New York Magazine in 2006 - http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/16666/) Whereas Foer and Englander created a new haggadah this year, it does not include any show business commentators, so story #3 is false.)