Shout out this week to Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was confirmed as the first black female Supreme Court Justice this week. No amount of Republican hate can detract from what is a profoundly good thing for our country and was clearly a high point for me in the news this week.
Otherwise, the news was mostly not so good. While the baseball season started this week, bringing some sense of normality and “hope springing eternal” for our Red Sox, the despicable Yankees put a damper on opening day for our hometown team, eking out an extra inning, walk-off victory with the help of the crappy “ghost runner” rule, a rule the morons in charge of the league left in place to help speed the games along. Despite the loss, it’s good to see baseball back in action and I look forward to attending opening day at Fenway with family next week. And for my Canadian friends, the lowly Jays started on a good note, but once again, they look great on paper and will undoubtedly finish poorly.
And in Israel, the news was also grim. Yet another terrorist attack left several dead and injured at a Tel Aviv bar Thursday. Israeli forces raiding the home of the terrorist responsible for the attack were met by gunfire. In the midst of this new wave of terror, Prime Minister Bennet’s coalition fell apart following the shocking resignation of the party’s coalition whip Idit Silman, a move that deprived the government of its parliamentary majority, amid murmurs of further potential defections from party members. Silman’s main excuse for her defection was a letter from the Health Minister to remind hospitals in Israel of a Supreme Court ruling a year prior that allows for chametz to be brought into hospitals during the Passover holiday. There are obviously more reasons for her defection, but who would have thought some leavened bread could help topple a government? Will Chametz-gate open the door for the return of Nutten-yahoo? Stay tuned for further developments in this breaking and developing scandal!
All of this in the deathly shadows of the continuing atrocities in the Ukraine made for a dreary week. Speaking to reporters this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the future he sees for his country in unusual terms: as “a big Israel.” Gone, he said, are hopes for “an absolutely liberal” state—replaced by the likely reality of armed defense forces patrolling movie theaters and supermarkets. “I’m confident that our security will be the number-one issue over the next ten years,” Zelenskyy added, eloquently stating, “My high expectations of Israel are more than Israel can provide”
So, let’s get to some happier news. My selections this week will hopefully be a bit more uplifting, and bring some enjoyment and maybe a smile or two. So here you go:
- Kosher chicken shortage: What the cluck is going on? While anyone who wants kosher chicken at their Passover seder should be able to get it, doing so might require more effort, cost or compromise than usual. That’s because an unusual array of forces have conspired to depress chicken production in the United States, and kosher plants have suffered alongside everyone else. Read more here.
- Smokey fish, or a fishy fire? Barney Greengrass, the beloved Jewish deli, famous for its smoked fish, was one of five suspected targets of arson on Thursday. The other four fires were outdoor rubbish fires, the FDNY told West Side Rag, and appear to have been set between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. The NYPD confirmed that the fires were “intentionally set.” Though antisemitic hate crimes have been the rise in New York City — including an incident on the Upper West Side last Saturday, when six Jewish kids were threatened by teens brandishing weapons — Greengrass told the New York Jewish Week that he didn’t believe the fire was antisemitic. Click here for more.
- Jews in baseball and a statue honoring “the left arm of god” – Despite its diminishing audience and aging fan base, I still love the summer game. And there seems to be an increasing amount of Jewish ball players making the “bigs” these days. In addition to Max Fried, Alec Bregman and Joe Pederson, there are at least a dozen others and more coming up the ranks in the minors. And we couldn’t talk Jewish baseball without mentioning the legendary Sandy Koufax, who will be immortalized with a statue at Dodger Stadium this summer. Play ball! Click here for more.
- A Jewish Doctor takes on Santa Claus for Alaska Congressional seat – You really can’t make this stuff up. There are about 50 candidates in the election being held to replace Don Young, the longest-serving Republican in House history, who died last month while in office. But the real attention in this race is on the Democrat, Al Gross, a physician who was raised in the Last Frontier’s close-knit Jewish community. He is one of the leading Democrats, but opposing him for the Democratic vote is Santa Claus, a city councilman in the city of North Pole (outside Fairbanks) who changed his name legally to Santa Claus from Thomas O’Connor in 2005. Claus, who did not declare a party affiliation, is a self-described “independent, progressive democratic socialist” who loves Jewish Sen. Bernie Sanders, and he told the Anchorage Daily News that, if elected, he might wear his Santa suit to Washington, D.C. He says he does not accept campaign contributions. Who knew there were any Jews in Alaska?
- 🚀 Over the moon for Matzah! – An Israeli astronaut is making a decidedly low-tech delivery to the International Space Station: handmade matzah.Eytan Stibbe, 64, is one of three astronauts paying for the privilege of launching into space on Friday, in an initiative of Axiom Space, a private company based in Houston. Chabad of the Space and Treasure Coasts in Florida delivered Stibbe a Passover food package, noting that he will be on the space station when Passover starts on the evening of April 15, Chabad.org reported.Stibbe explained the significance of the holiday in a Zoom press conference earlier this week.“The seder, Passover, is all about freedom which is a value we celebrate annually and remind ourselves about the importance of freedom,” he said. (CNN, JTA, Chabad)
- Blue and yellow macaroons? Jews find ways to add Ukraine to their Seders:Rabbis and other leaders are encouraging people to incorporate readings, symbolic foods, and charitable gifts relating to the war into their holiday observance. One person has created name cards in the shape of sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. Another has bought kosher wines from Moldova, one of the border countries welcoming thousands of refugees. The Krakow JCC is hosting a Seder for displaced Ukrainians. “Doing nothing is not an option,” said a Jewish activist. Read the story ➤
That’s all I’ve got this week. Time to start sweeping out chametz from all the nooks and crannies! Have a great Passover everyone, Chag Sameach! And hey, let’s continue to be careful out there!