Eblast from Israel

Dear CAI family,

Warm Passover greetings from Israel. Here are a few observations reflective of living “like an Israeli” rather than visiting as a tourist [which also is terrific].

  1. Having only one Seder is the Israeli custom – even though two Seders are observed outside of Israel. This year the one Seder took place on Shabbat. The evening had the feel of a special Shabbat extended celebration and not a two-day experience.
  2. Throughout the duration of the holiday, Hametz items no longer are sold in most places, although Passover items and restaurants are marked if they contain Kitniyot.
  3. Why? The big Israeli Passover food debate is about Kitniyot [rice, beans etc]. Ashkenazic Jews like the Silversteins do not eat Kitniyot but the Sephardic Jews [Israel’s majority] do. Keep in mind, Kitniyot are not Hametz. So Ashkenazim can eat at a Sephardic home on Passover, just not eating Kitniyot items.
  4. On Passover, knowledge of Passover laws extend to Jews and non-Jews alike. For example, in the days prior to Passover, we [Alan and Rita] stayed at a hotel. When Rabbi David [our strictly observant son] came to visit with some snacks, the non-Jewish staff gave him instructions what can be eaten in the hotel now that it has been prepared for Passover. Irony of ironies!
  5. The entire country is on vacation, with family hikes and outings taking place on a daily basis. Extended families gather, often with large numbers of relatives – NOTE: people in Israel marry at a younger age than in the USA and have more kids [the highest birth-rate among the world’s westernized countries].
  6. This year Easter took place during Passover, yet it was not felt by folks living on Modiin [the very Jewish city in which our children and grandchildren reside]. Of course, this in contrast to the USA, in which Easter is much more in evidence than Passover.
  7. Finally, Israeli families engage in countless Mitzvah projects during Passover as part of the themes of the holiday. For example, people harvest vegetables from agricultural areas set aside to feed the hungry under the umbrella of LEKET, a wonderful Feed The Hungry framework.

In sum, being in Israel for Passover [or at any time] is a reinforcement of our Jewish identity. Israel gives us pride in our heritage, our values, our destiny.

I urge everyone [all ages] to come to CAI’s celebration of Israeli Independence Day – Wednesday May 8 for special prayers at 7:30 pm and then a joyous concert by the popular singing group “Six13.”

Additionally, prior to the prayers, beginning at 6:15 pm, we will honor a MOST special CAI couple, Bea and Nat Taubenfeld.

As a couple Bea and Nat have been beloved and pivotal members of our synagogue community for 70 years.

They have blessed us with their love and leadership.

This is a chance to return some of that affection to them and to do so in the presence of their large and loving family.

I look forward to celebrating with you on Wednesday evening May 8 – Israel’s 71st birthday!

Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Alan Silverstein

About the Author
Rabbi Alan Silverstein, PhD has been the religious leader of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey since 1979. From … 1993 to 1995 he served as President of the International Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement. From 2000 - 2005 he was President of the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues. He served as Chair of the Foundation for Masorti Judaism in Israel from 2010-2014. He currently serves as the president of Mercaz Olami. He is the author of It All Begins With A Date: Jewish Concerns About Interdating; Preserving Jewishness In Your Family: Once Intermarriage Has Occurred; as well as Alternative to Assimilation: A Social History of the Reform Movement in American Judaism, 1840-1930.