Jerusalem, Katamon: “Find me a Sephardi boy… that’s all I hear this time of year. Nobody asks if a boy is a serious learner, has good middos or if he has job prospects. All these girls want is for me to find them a Sephardi boyfriend before Pesach.” explained Malka A, known as the best shadchanit in Katamon. We had come to Malka’s with our friend Shevy, who was newly single.
“Nu? What happened with this last boy…the Moroccan?” Malka inquired. “I didn’t have feelings for him.” Shevy explained. “But it was so hard to break up with him before Pesach….I kept hearing about this delicious rice pudding his mom serves at the Seder….and the amazing Mimouna his sister always hosts. Do you realize how I spent every Motzeh Pesach growing up??? Standing in line at the pizzeria for undercooked slices!”
Malka comforted Shevy on the breakup, brought out her book of shidduch résumés and assured her that she would soon find a boy with everything she was looking for… and who would bring her favorite flavor of Doritos on Pesach Tiyulim. “What about this guy? He’s cute! What is he, Tunisian?” Shevy asked as she flipped through the book.
“Him? No, he’s not for you.” Malka replied. “You’re a brunette and he said he only wants to date blondes.”
“Disgusting!” Shevy yelled as she slammed the book shut and stormed out. “How can men be so shallow?“
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.
The Technion, Haifa: Scientists at Israel’s prestigious Technion are currently hard at work attempting to solve one of the World’s most intractable mysteries. Cold fusion? Nope, they’ve already found a source of renewable energy. The mystery of the weird posts on popular community page Secret Tel Aviv? Nope, they’ve solved that too! Trying to figure out why the Homeland of the Jewish People still has not even made a bagel as good as….. ummm… Dunkin Donuts? Yes! And in terms of “Problems facing self-absorbed Ashkenazi Olim from North America“, this situation is basically our Code-Red Alert. So it makes sense that the greatest scientific minds in the Jewish world would seek to tackle this problem. The Daily Freier went up to Haifa to figure out just how we will solve this Crisis.
The project’s lead scientist, Dr. Shmuel C. greeted the Daily Freier and quickly ushered us into their experimental “Bagel Lab“, which looked a lot like a Queens, New York bakery circa 1981, complete with linoleum floors, fluorescent lights, and a set of bells on the door that jingled when you opened it. In fact, just to really nail the whole effect, they built a Carvel Ice Cream shop in the adjoining lab. “We know that the Startup Nation can bring a good bagel to Israel.” explained Dr. Shmuel. “I mean, how hard could this possibly be? Look, we built a high-speed rail line already and it will take you non-stop from Jerusalem to….wait…. never mind…but still, we got this!”
The Daily Freier then sampled some of the prototypes, and they were just as good as any bagel we’ve had so far in Israel, meaning they tasted like the foam from your couch cushion dipped in sesame seeds. “Do you like it?” asked Dr. Shmuel. “The same expert who designed this prototype previously helped McDonalds-Israel Division attain their amazing tasting burgers!” Or course he did.
Trying to lend a hand, the Daily Freier asked Dr. Shmuel some questions about their process: “So when you boil the bagel before you…..” but he quickly cut us off and said “Wait…..Boil the bagel before you bake it? That doesn’t even make any sense.”
Tel Aviv, The Old North: A local man of Ashkenazi origin has decided that it would just be very, very convenient if he could finish digesting his late breakfast of jachnun some time before Erev Rosh Hashanah. Jachnun, the slow-cooked rolled dough pastry from Yemen is normally served with a hard-boiled egg and a spicy sauce. And the flaky breakfast pastry has a density greater than a Black Hole. So if Tel Aviv resident Avi F. could just complete the digestion process by some time on Sunday afternoon, it would be great.
Avi described his Holiday schedule to the Daily Freier. “I am going to a family dinner in Rishon LeTzion, so if we could just finish this by Erev Chag, it would make my plans a lot easier.”
The Daily Freier asked Avi to explain his jachnun meal. “It was quite good.” Avi explained. “Like eating buttered Kevlar, except with more layers. I plan on being finished chewing by the time I watch the news tonight.”
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.
Live from Tel Aviv. This is like Satire and Stuff.