Passover Seder, Cup 4: Obama, this year in Jerusalem

Bradley Burston; 31/3/10; (6 Items)

[All fill the last of the four cups of Seder wine]
We built this city.
We built this city on freedom.
We built this Jerusalem, this faith, this people, on the idea that God cannot be seen nor touched, that God cannot be built of stones, nor destroyed in fire, nor claimed by one people alone, nor translated into the language of maps, nor used as a weapon to shun other peoples, malign other faiths, or deny others this city.
We built this city on courage. We built this city on the kind of belief that it took to leave our slavemasters behind, everything we know behind, to take the step into the sea that had nothing but miracles holding back its walls from drowning everyone that it did not first crush.


6,000 Ethiopian Jews to attend world’s largest seder in Gondar
Haaretz Service; 31/3/10;
Approximately 6,000 Ethiopian Jews will gather at a massive seder in Gondar on Monday night, most of them hoping that Israel will soon accede to their request to make aliyah. The Falash Mura tribe has been preparing for this night in their refugee camp for week, learning the songs and traditions from Israeli emissary Getent Awake, who emigrated more than a decade ago and has returned to Ethiopian to supervise the religious character of the community. “We left our families in order to strengthen [the Jews in Ethiopia],” said Awake. “This will be the biggest Passover seder in the world, facilitated by two rabbis. We have more than 250,000 matzahs and 2,000 liters of wine.”

Rayak’s daily bread
Ze’ev Segal; 31/3/10;
Last week, just before Passover, three Supreme Court justices sat in Jerusalem and heard not the story of the Exodus from Egypt, but the appeal by a Muslim inmate whose heart’s desire was to receive bread instead of matza during the holiday. The Tel Aviv District Court had turned down the request by Madaba Mahmoud Rayak, who then took his case to the Supreme Court. There he was opposed by the State Prosecutor’s Office, representing the Prison Service’s chaplaincy, which was bent on enforcing the precepts demanding the removal of all leaven during Passover, as laid out in the Book of Exodus. The Jewish and democratic state told a Muslim citizen that it was legal to maintain strict kashrut and all the laws of Passover in a prison wing that housed a mixed population of Jews, Muslims and Christians.

The plague of darkness has struck modern Israelites
Alive Eldar; 31/3/10;
One of the harshest of the 10 plagues has smitten the children of Israel this Passover, and they are stumbling about in pitch darkness, bumping blindly into anyone in their way as they head toward the edge of the precipice. Warm friends, cool friends, icy enemies: Jordan and Turkey, Brazil and Britain, Germany and Australia – it’s all the same. And if that’s not enough, the myopic Jewish state also has gone and collided head-on with the ally that offers existential support. Israel has become an environmental hazard and its own greatest threat. For 43 years, Israel has been ruled by people who have refused to see reality.They speak of “united Jerusalem,” knowing that no other country has recognized the annexation of the eastern part of the city. They sent 300,000 people to settle land they know does not belong to them.

Four cups of wine not on menu for Mormon seder in Utah
Mormons in Utah will be holding their own seder this week. Just don’t expect four cups of wine, since many Mormons abstain from alcohol. Avraham Gileadi, a Mormon who is also a Hebrew scholar, will direct A Passover for Joseph and Judah at Provo’s Scenic View Academy on Friday. Gileadi, 69, is affiliated with the seder’s sponsor, The Hebraeus Foundation, an organization promoting biblical scholarship. He said that Mormons and Jews share similar attributes and that while Passover isn’t a Mormon tradition, it could be. “A lot of LDS people are also part of that heritage,” Gileadi said, referring to the Mormons’ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “It’s as much about us as it is about Jews.”

Happy festival of freedom
Merav Michaeli; 1/4/10
Around here, when we talk about Passover as the holiday of freedom, we talk about freedom for the Palestinians, foreign workers, contractors’ workers and others. Others, especially. Not ourselves. We perceive ourselves as free. Not only have we left slavery for freedom, and not only are the Israeli people dwelling securely in their home, we are also living in an age of freedom. There is the freedom to vote and freedom to be elected, a free economy, free religion, freedom of speech, freedom of occupation, the freedom to marry and the freedom to unionize. Freedom of thought. There is the right to dignity, personal security, privacy, property rights, the right to a fair trial and of course the right to equality.
See: ;

Will the real Moses please stand up?
Ofri Ilani; 1/4/10;
One day, King Amenophis of Egypt decided that he wanted to see the gods with his own eyes. He called on one of the kingdom’s sages and asked him how he could make his wish come true. The wise man replied that the king could do so if he were to cleanse Egypt of lepers and other impure people. The king took immediate action. He gathered all the people with disabilities and diseases and expelled them all to the stone quarries east of the Nile, to endure hard labor and be separated from the rest of the population. When the sage saw the king’s acts of cruelty, which were committed because of his prophecy, he feared the rage of the gods and the destructive consequences of his act, and killed himself.

Passover is our original Independence Day
Avraham Burg;
Each generation has a different appreciation of its holidays. Their customs and significance change with time, and it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly preserves the memory of one festival while another date on the calendar is sent into oblivion. Who today remembers the Day of Nicanor, or can recount what happened to the right hand and head of that Seleucid general after they were severed by Judah Maccabee at the Battle of Beth Horon and proudly displayed near Jerusalem for all to see? Similarly, few people are aware of the significance of the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, designated as the first day of the fasting season during a drought year. On the other hand, Tu Bishvat has witnessed a rebirth: What was once a formal but marginal date on the Hebrew calendar has turned into quite a holiday during the era of modern Israel. Hanukkah, too, has been transformed from a religious celebration of miraculous redemption to an occasion honoring Zionism, heroism and prideful nationalism.
See: 1/4/10