Showing posts from April, 2016

Corn, Rice, Beans on Passover? -- new ruling from Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards

This is the note I sent to my congregation.... As we approach Passover, I wanted to offer a few thoughts about an opinion published by Conservative Judaism's Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards that you might have seen earlier this year.  It has gotten a fair amount of news coverage (see, for example, life-religion/rabbis-expand- the-passover-menu-but-will- conservative-jews-bite ).   Our rabbinic intern, Philip Gibbs, who is the secretary of the Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards, taught about this opinion this past shabbat.  Here is my summary of the issue.  

Goats and Cats, Sticks and Dogs, Angels and God: Finishing the Seder with Had Gadya

Some find it surprising that at the Passover Seder, we discuss weighty themes of slavery and freedom and redemption, but the culmination, the grand finale of the entire seder, is Had Gadya - basically the Jewish version of “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly.” In fact, there has been a lot of confusion in Jewish tradition about how this folk song for children managed to work its way into the Haggadah, such that it is now sung in virtually every Jewish community around the world:  “My father bought a little goat for two gold coins.  Then came a cat that ate the goat - that my father bought for two gold coins.  Then came a dog and bit the cat - that ate the goat - that my father bought for two gold coins.  Then came a stick - and beat the dog - that bit the cat......” etc. etc.  And the song concludes, ten verses later:  “And then came God, the Holy Blessed One, and slaughtered the Angel of Death - who slaughtered the butcher who slaughtered the ox that drank the water that pu

Seder Trivia -- 2016 / 5776 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 find previous years' stories here,   here ,   here ,   here   and   here .   The stories from our 2015/5775 seder are below.    Three unusual Pesach stories..... 2 are true, and one is fictional.  Can you figure out which story is not true?     (The answer is at the bottom.) ======================================================================   (a) With each passing year, the number of Kosher for Passover products continues to grow.  In 2015, Israel's Ben and Jerry's factory, which has been selling kosher for Passover ice c