Jerusalem: According to Israel’s Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, Jews should not leave their homes in order to kasher cooking utensils or burn hametz (foods deemed unkosher for Passover), which religiously observant Jews do every year the morning before the holiday. As part of the national effort to fight the spread of COVID-19, Israel’s Chief Rabbis ruled that Jews must instead gather all such products in their kitchen and eat them down to the last crumb.
“In lieu of our usual traditions, eating every last bit of hametz is the only way to guarantee both a safe and kosher Passover.” said Yosef at a meeting with leaders from the Sephardic and Mizrahi communities. “Drastic times call for drastic measures.”
According to Jewish law, no bread or leavened products may be eaten or kept at home during Passover. But some communities are finding this new ruling particularly difficult. Ashkenazi Jews, whose recent ancestors resided in Germany and eastern Europe, are forbidden from eating kitniyot, a term that refers to many grains and legumes. This made Rabbi Lau’s ruling particularly shocking.
“Drinking all my beer and eating all my bread is one thing.” lamented Yechezkel Abelman of Jerusalem. “But there’s 4 days left before the holiday. How are my wife and I supposed to eat five kilograms of rice and wash them down with twelve cans of lentil soup?”
“Instead of burning hametz, we must prepare ourselves to burn calories.” explained Yaakov Litzman, Israel’s Minister of Health and follower of the Ger Hasidic Dynasty. “Those who find it difficult should soften their bread by dipping it in water.”
Of course, not every religious leader is going along with the new ruling. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky of Bnei Brak is considered a high authority in the Haredi world, and has vowed to defy the ruling.
Some believe Rabbi Kanievsky’s headstrong approach is due to core disagreements over religious interpretation. Others believe it’s because he is yet to discard five jars of extra crunchy Skippy peanut butter he has stashed in his home. No matter the reason, some of his followers were more enthusiastic about his “live-and-let’s-get-sick” approach.
In mid-March, after ordering his hundreds of thousands of followers to defy the Health Ministry’s Anti-Corona directives, he changed his mind two weeks later. “If he’s going to change his mind again, I’d rather he do it in the next day or two, so I have time to digest.” said Yoel Friedberg of Bnei Brak. “Corona or not, if I show up full to the Seder, my mother might kill me anyway.”
Meanwhile, religious leaders across Israel and the Diaspora are already preparing other holidays for the impact of COVID-19. If the pandemic stretches into the fall, building a Sukkah may involve dismantling your living room furniture for the wood.
Ramat Aviv: In a move described as “bold” and “daring“, the Ashkenazi Community purchased the rights to the Mimouna Holiday from the Mizrachi Community today. According to the one page flyer that they stuck in the little wooden box on the front of your seat in synagogue, the move has been planned since right after Passover, and was finalized to coincide with the arrival of Shavuot this week. Mimouna, the post-Passover Holiday celebrated by North African Jews, is known for its plentiful food and colorful costumes. And the Ashkenazim vow not to change anything. Except they’re going to make the food a bit blander and easier to digest. And the music is going to be toned down a bit. Especially after 10 PM. Also we’re going to need to make the music slower. And maybe add a fiddle. The Daily Freier stopped by Ashkenazi World Headquarters in Ramat Aviv to get the whole Megillah on this dramatic turn of events.
“We’ve always admired Mimouna.” explained Ashkenazi World Spokeswoman Miriam G. “Those nice dresses the men and women wear. The sweets. The music. So when we found out that the rights to the holiday were now up for sale, we jumped at the opportunity!” The Daily Freier asked Miriam exactly how this once in a lifetime opportunity came about. “So the legal ownership of Mimouna became convoluted over time, but our lawyers were able to untangle the chain of custody and determine that the rights were currently being held by a hummus place in Ashkelon that also fixes cars sometimes. So we put out some feelers and found out they were willing to sell. Then we designed a compensation package with 50% up front and 5 years of scheduled 10% payments from an escrow account, and Boom! We had a deal!”
Miriam went on to explain that while the Ashkenazim intend to maintain the spirit of the holiday, there are going to be some changes. “We want a Mimouna that is just as authentic but maybe a bit less chaotic.” When the Daily Freier challenged Miriam for details, she summed up the Ashkenazi plan thusly: “Reduced chances of losing track of your shoes at some point during the evening but with greater opportunities for getting bored….. Also my husband’s heartburn has been acting up lately so we may need to get rid of that dry ground red pepper that they put in everything. And our neighbors get up early to drive to Jerusalem each morning, so we need to be finished by 10 PM, maximum 10:30.”
Not surprisingly, this move has led to a few hurt feelings. “This is outrageous!” complained an irate woman named Maygal whom we talked to in the Rehovot train station. “Soon you Ashkenazim are going to take everything we have and make it boring and stupid. How would you like it if we took your Leonard Cohen or Barbra Streisand or whatever and added electronic drums plus sound effects from a dance club and then ran it through the sound system of a 2003 Toyota Corolla with tinted windows?” When the Daily Freier replied that this actually sounded kinda cool, Maygal shoved us and stormed off.
In any event, at least there will still be some sort of dance that involves everybody wandering around in a circle.
Tel Aviv, Ibn Gabirol: Ever since you moved into the studio apartment the pigeons have been a nightmare. They wake you up every morning at 04:50 AM. They hang out on the window sills and poop everywhere. They even got into the old ventilation shaft and built a nest in the building. And they’re so cocky. They don’t even fly away when you walk by.
This is a health hazard. You complained to your landlord, and he told you that nobody else has ever complained before and that maybe you are doing something to attract them. It was so bad you almost moved out. So you asked for advice on Secret Tel Aviv and received ten “Welcome to Israel” messages, three “Go back to North America” messages, and a really sketchy private message.
But then suddenly things got better! Not nearly as loud. A lot less poop. And it’s getting better every day! Like there’s less and less of them or something.
Also, this really nice Moroccan family moved into the vacant apartment upstairs. They really take care of you too! Twice last week they invited you over for dinner. The chicken and rice was A-MA-ZING. Really lean. Kinda like the free range birds you used to get from Trader Joe’s. You asked the mom if she got it at the Shouk or Shufersal and she just smiled and told you that you needed to talk less and eat more if you ever want to not be so skinny.
And every evening the grandfather carries this thing that’s like a net up to the roof. It also has these copper weights around the edges. He says it’s to stop evil spirits from coming into the house at night. How amazing is that? It’s like extra protection.
So when you left the house this morning, the two pigeons standing outside scattered when they saw you. Like they’re a bit scared now or something.
Live from Tel Aviv. This is like Satire and Stuff.