Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Seder Trivia - 2017 / 5777 edition

At our synagogue's congregational seders for the last few years, we have played the following game:  I have collected unusual Pesach stories, and shared three such stories with the community:  two true stories, and one fictional story.  Participants then have to guess which two stories are true and which one is false.   (If you listen to Wait, wait, don't tell me, you get the idea, except that only one story is false.)


You can see previous editions of this game here http://rabbischeinberg.blogspot.com/search?q=trivia.


This is what was presented at our congregational seder in 2016, in honor (?) of that election year. All 3 stories this year have to do with people who reached, or aspired to reach, the Presidency of the United States.  2 are true; one is fictional.


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A:
Many of us saw videos of visits to Matzah factories in the spring of 2016 by presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich.  For some people with long political memories, these campaign stops were reminiscent of the first ever Passover-oriented campaign stop, back in 1988.  


Governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic front-runner, and his wife Kitty Dukakis were getting a lot of questions about their family’s religious practices, as Governor Dukakis was a Greek Orthodox Christian, and his wife Kitty was Jewish.  In response to a reporter’s query in February 1988, Michael Dukakis indicated that his family had a Passover seder every year, and they would likely host a Passover seder in the White House if he won the election.  


The B. Manischewitz Company, upon hearing this, invited Governor and Mrs Dukakis to come to tour the Manischewitz processing plant in Vineland NJ, at that time a major employer in the Vineland area.  During the tour, the chairman of B. Manischewitz Co. joked that Manischewitz would be the ideal choice to be the official matzah of the first-ever White House Seder.


The tour nearly came to an end, though, when Kitty Dukakis removed a rice cake from her purse.  The sight of unauthorized food in a kosher for Passover facility nearly made the Manischewitz kashrut supervisor lose his composure, but he collected himself and calmly asked the prospective First Lady to refrain from eating until she got back outside.


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B:
Passover shopping promotions have a long history:
Buy $50 of groceries and get five pounds of matzah for free!
Buy 3 Passover products and get a free Maxwell House Haggadah!


But did you know the story of the first ever Passover shopping promotion?  It happened in 1889.  The United States was celebrating 100 years since the inauguration of George Washington, who became president in March of 1789.  The entire nation seemed to be celebrating - but this posed a dilemma for the Jewish community because the anniversary of the inauguration fell during Passover.


Well, New York Matzah bakers came to the rescue and announced a way that the entire Jewish community could join in the celebration:  Anyone who bought 10 pounds of Matzah would receive as a free gift -- a portrait of George Washington, suitable for framing.
And thus -- that year, George Washington was a welcome guest at many passover seders throughout the United States. I cannot tell a lie.


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C:
Various products bear the name of Donald Trump -- some elegant, and some ridiculous.
Trump Tower, Trump Place, Trump Palace, Trump Plaza - - Trump Shuttle, Trump Steaks, Trump University, Trump Fragrance, Trump Mortgage, Trump Natural Spring Water.
But one of the very craziest of the Trump products has special relevance to Passover.


Trump Vodka was not a particularly successful business venture. Introduced in 2006 to great fanfare, it never sold very well, and the brand had completely gone out of circulation by 2011, at which time Trump Vodka could no longer be found anywhere in the world….


Except for one place:  Israel.  For some reason, the distributor of Trump Vodka in Israel kept on distributing it after the brand had been officially terminated. The Trump organization even sued the distributor to stop him from distributing Trump Vodka -- but Trump apparently settled the lawsuit (even though, as Trump says, “I NEVER SETTLE LAWSUITS.”)   So Trump Vodka can be purchased legally in just one country in the world:  Israel.  


pictured:  a different kind of k-p vodka?
And even in Israel, Trump Vodka doesn’t sell so well.  But relatively speaking, Trump Vodka IS  popular in Israel at this time of year, in that it is not made from wheat, but from potatoes.


And thus -- Trump Vodka happens to be one of the only brands of vodka in Israel that bears kosher for Passover certification.
Please note, however:  drinking four cups of Trump Vodka at your seder (or, for that matter, drinking any Trump Vodka at all at your seder)  is strongly, strongly not recommended.




Scroll below for answers!








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For the two true stories, click these links:

Trump vodka

(Dukakis story is not true, though it is true that he said that he would host seders in the White House if he were elected.)











Friday, March 10, 2017

Haman on the Couch....

see http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/haman-on-the-couch/ for something I wrote in honor of Purim this year, making an effort to peer into the mind of Haman, everyone's favorite Purim villain.   Purim Sameach!