The Maccabeats sing the story of Passover in a perfectly adapted medley based on Les Miserables.
"Look down, look down. You'll always be a slave..." Wait for the grand finale as they continue with "Do you hear the people sing? Say do you hear the distant drums, It is future that they bring when tomorrow comes." The Maccabeats are unbeatabe on their new album - One Day More. Just sit back and enjoy!
The House Judiciary Committee tabled Republican Rep. Krieger's bill (HB 921) to eliminate Pennsylvania's background check system for gun purchasing and leave a less comprehensive system behind. Shira Goodman of CeaseFirePA credited the deluge of calls, letters and visits they organized with thwarting this bill.
However, Rep. M. K. Keller's bill (HB 2011) giving special legal standing to gun owners and organizations of gun owners to sue towns and cities was passed out of the committee. Nevertheless, Ms. Goodman vowed that CeaseFirePA would continue its work to defeat HB 2011 as it moves to the floor of Pennsylvania's General Assembly:
And you know what our callers heard repeatedly yesterday — for the first time, the contacts from folks on our side of the issue — the side of gun violence prevention and safety — were far outnumbering the calls from the other side. That passion gap we always hear about — destroyed!
An average of 100,000 people are shot each year in the United States. Now is not the time to rally for weaker background check laws. Now is the time to fight for stronger gun laws that help prevent violence and promote responsible firearm ownership.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America combined forces to create the video "Scenes from Everytown: 4:08 pm" as part of their "Everytown for Gun Safety" series highlighting key gun violence issues.
Two candidates for Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district, Dr. Val Arkoosh and State Senator Daylin Leach, called for higher minimum wages at the March for Minimum Wage in Philadelphia last Friday.
Arkoosh said, "Low-wage workers are the backbone of this city, this state and this country. They need a raise so they can earn a paycheck that provides for them and for their families."
Leach said, "The average CEO now makes 500 times more than their average worker. The economic policies give every cent to the top 1%."
The life of a Jewish dwarf who miraculously survived the Holocaust is the inspiration for a new motion picture project.
The Lilliput will illustrate how Abraham Kerber was able to defeat the odds of surviving the war by using his weaknesses as strengths. This dark fairy tale, which is being shot in Gabin and Lodz, Poland, promises to be one of the most moving new films being produced about the Holocaust.
Leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine, calls for all Jewish people over age 16 to register as Jews. (Photo: The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism)
Translation from NCSJ: Dear citizens of Jewish nationality! Due to the fact that leaders of the Jewish Community of Ukraine support the Bandera junta in Kiev and are hostile to the Orthodox Donetsk Republic and its citizens, the main headquarters of the Donetsk Republic declares the following:
Every citizen of Jewish nationality older than 16 years, residing in the territory of a sovereign Donetsk Republic has to go to Donetsk Regional Administrator to see the Nationalities Commissioner, Office 514, for registration. The registration fee is $50.
Persons should have with them with cash in the amount of $50 for registration, a passport to mark their religion, and documents of family members, as well as ownership documents for their properties and vehicles.
In case of failure to register, the perpetrators will lose their citizenship and will be deported outside the republic, with their property confiscated.
— by Elka Looks, Jewish Community Relations Council
The Jewish Community Relations Council was appalled to learn that flyers were distributed in the Ukrainian City of Donetsk calling on Jews to "register" their household with the local Nationalities Commission Office.
The flyers required Jews to bring a $50 fee to cover the placement of a "religious nationality" mark in passports, and to register their property and possessions with local authorities. Jews who failed to comply would face deportation. The flyers were signed in the name of Denis Pushilin, the leader of Donetsk's pro-Russian separatists, who led the takeover of several government buildings and claimed the city as the Donetsk Republic.
According to the National Conference Supporting Jews in Russia Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia (NCSJ), which has been in direct contact with Donetsk Jewish community leaders, authorities have rejected any association with the flyers, and Pushlin has denied authorship. The origin of the flyers, which were distributed by three individuals wearing ski masks and the flag of the Russian Federation near the Donetsk synagogue, remains unknown.
According to the NCSJ's statement on this deplorable matter, they are "continuing to work with local Jewish leaders and national officials to do everything possible to find those responsible for this outrageous and reprehensible act, and to hold them accountable."
JCRC commends Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, both of whom swiftly and unequivocally condemned the flyers. We were also pleased to see the local, national and even international media coverage this heinous act received; we and the world cannot stand idly by.
But the targeted locations, a Jewish Community Center and a Jewish Retirement Home; and an attack fueled by racism and anti-semitism, do not mean that only some of us need worry: Two of the victims were not Jewish — just folks who came to participate in an activity at a place open to and serving an entire community.
Already it is clear that at least two major forces were at play in Kansas City: the shooter was filled with hate, and he had access to guns despite a serious criminal history involving hate crimes, firearms and other weapons.
Kerry from 0:55:00 to 1:00:00 is not portraying Israel as the villain; in fact, he goes out of his way to praise Prime Minister Netanyahu.
— Steve Sheffey
Secretary of State John Kerry, a strong supporter of Israel, testified last week that both parties — Israel and the Palestinians — have recently taken unhelpful steps, but he continues to work to bring the two sides together, as he should.
Don't want to deal with the implications of climate change? Deny it! Don't like the Obamacare sign up numbers? Make up your own! Don't want Israel to give up the West Bank? Wish away the demographic facts! Don't like how your candidate is doing in the polls? Invent your own numbers! (No link — just ask President Romney how to do it.)
Experiencing cognitive dissonance because contrary to everything you were told or secretly wished to believe, President Obama has turned out to be a strong friend of Israel? Then invent a conflict!
During President Obama's first term, we were treated to rumors about a snub of Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House that turned out to be completely false and headlines about forcing Israel to return to the 1967 borders that turned out to be utter nonsense. Last week, the Republican Jewish Coalition and others claimed that Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel for the latest impasse between Israel and the Palestinians.
Editor's Note: This "Republican Haggadah" first appeared in the Huffington Post in 2012. However, except for the references to the 2012 Presidential election the humor is timeless. Enjoy!
— by Steve Sheffey
Jewish history is littered with sects, groups of people kind of like Jews who celebrate the same holidays and have many of the same customs, yet are somehow different.
Today's sect is known as "Jewish Republicans," few in number but very loud. Like most Jews, they celebrate Pesach, but they've got their own Haggadah. The differences between their Haggadah and ours are instructive.
After drinking the first cup of wine, most Jews wash their hands, but the Republicans stay seated and wait for the water to trickle down.
Most Jews then eat a green vegetable, but the Republican Haggadah follows the ruling of Rabbi Reagan that ketchup qualifies as a vegetable. Ketchup is not green, but green is the last thing any Republican would want to be. (Reagan does have this in common with Moses: Neither ever set foot in the land of Israel.)
It is no stretch to say that distracted driving is an epidemic in today's world. Whether texting, fiddling with the radio, calling a friend, or even using the GPS, there are so many easy ways for any driver to become distracted in an instant. This is especially true for teens, including myself. Maybe it's a notification from our incredibly useful smart phones or even an inclination to be reckless, but research shows that teenagers are especially at risk for these types of behaviors. It may seem shocking to some adults, but from my perspective, this is not radical data; it is the real experience of so many teenagers (and probably adults as well).
After many months of gloomy weather and eating winter offerings of potatoes and cabbage, I am ready to welcome my spring crop of fresh herbs. I am especially excited to see the first shoots of dill. Dill originated in Eastern Europe, and has a high tolerance for cold weather. This healthy, aromatic herb is high in iron, calcium, and fiber. It is a very popular addition to salads in Eastern Europe.
For the first Seder dinner, I'll include the dill in an amazingly refreshing Spring Green Salad which combats the heaviness of brisket, potato kugel and the multiple pieces of matzoh. I've made this salad, which has the right balance of crunch and tanginess, for years. It reminds me of a good friend who happens to always be open to new experiences, encouraging others to join in on the fun. And, that's what Passover should be about - a surprising and ever-changing blend of history, tradition, novelty, openness and joy.
Kate Czajkowski and Keith J. Conallen. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
The drama Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq now playing at the Wilma Theater tells the story of one Marine's return home from war and discovery that his lover is missing.
The play, written by Paula Vogel and directed by Blanka Zizka, is inspired by Don Juan Comes Back from the War, written in 1936 by Odon von Horvath. It is grounded in the experiences of recent veterans, who often return from Iraq and Afghanistan to the U.S., where most of the population has little direct connection with war.
The play addresses post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as pervasive sexual assault on women in the military, but as these subjects are covered by the media, the play does not shed any new light on them. The surreal quality of the narrative, which jumps in time from colonial Philadelphia to the Iraq war, is more confusing than effective.
His patience and willingness to restate his message is impressive, given how slow the uptake among congregations worldwide seems to be, at least in this reviewer's experience. And as times are changing, the direction of relationship-building is changing, as Wolfson indicates in a telling quote from a congregational leader:
We thought Shabbat would be a doorway to relationships. We learned that relationships are a doorway to Shabbat.
The Supreme Court's partisan 5 to 4 decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission opens the door for the richest Americans to buy support as many Congressmen and Senators as they see fit. Miles Lofgren writes:
The Roberts court, or five of its nine members, adopted the misanthrope's faux-naïve pose in ruling that private money in politics, far from promoting corruption, causes democracy to thrive because, money being speech, the more speech, the freer the politics. Anatole France mocked this kind of legal casuistry by saying "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
— by Lynne Fox, Chairperson, Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee
The Perelman Jewish Day School board has unilaterally withdrawn its recognition of the union which has represented their teachers without interruption since 1976 and refuses to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee stands firmly with the teachers, their union and the parents and community leaders who have reached out to us as the board violates the rights of the school's teachers to bargain collectively.
Although the school claims a religious exception to the relevant labor laws, it is the teachers' concerns which are in alignment with tenets of Conservative Judaism. By dismantling the union and denying employees the power of collective bargaining, the Perelman Jewish Day School is acting in opposition both to major halakhic authorities and to the official position of the Conservative Movement. In 2008, the Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards passed a teshuvah (legal position) which obliges institutions affiliated with the movement to comply with a series of Jewish labor laws. Among these, employers must pay a living wage and "may not interfere in any way with organizing drives."
Last week, unconfirmed reports indicated that the U.S. might free Jonathan Pollard in return for concessions from Israel on the peace process.
Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987, for spying for Israel against the U.S. He will be eligible for parole in November 2015. Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush and thus far, Obama, have refused to release him.
Some have argued that his sentence was excessive, and may have been motivated by anti-Semitism.
Some, seemingly in a position to know, maintain that the damage Pollard did to our intelligence network was so great that his sentence was not excessive; while others seemingly in a position to know maintain that he has served enough time, and is no longer dangerous.
Haroset, the fruit and nut paste symbolizing mortar, has a cameo role in the Passover Seder. This is usually the first and last time that it is consumed all year. I am very enthusiastic about preparing home-made haroset. I make a Sephardic, an Ashkenazi and another haroset for the Seder. I always end up with way too much. In order to make use of my leftovers, I have found that it is possible to create a whole meal around haroset.
Whitney Fisch was a model in Milan when she discovered the pleasures of Italian food. Her website, Jewhungry, relates how she keeps kosher while trying everything.
Liz Rueven shares her kosher vegetarian adventures in Kosher Like Me. I especially admire her thorough research and travel adventures.
Amy Kritzer, the creator of What Jew Wanna Eat, started by preserving her bubby's recipes. From there, she fell in love with cooking and attended the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Austin, Texas. She shares both vintage and new recipes.
Passover offers so many opportunities for creativity in the kitchen. On point of inspiration is the Seder plate. Its ingredients may form the basis of many satisfying dishes. Chef Moshe Basson, the proprietor of Eucalyptus Restaurant in Jerusalem, has created a delicious spring soup centered on the karpas, or green vegetable, which is dipped in salt water at the Passover Seder.
This velvety soup begins with fresh celeriac (celery root). Some of the celery stalks are separated from the roots, washed, and displayed on the Seder plate, to be dipped in salt water. The rest of the celery stalks, leaves, and roots are blended with almond or coconut milk to prepare a rich and creamy soup. This versatile soup is inexpensive, easy to prepare, low fat, and vegan. It complements almost any Passover meal.
The Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region announced that the Israeli diplomats' strike, part of a year-long labor dispute in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came to an end. Therefore all Israeli missions over the world, and their headquarters in Jerusalem, reopened Thursday.
Starting March 4, Israel's consulates around the world did not provide any services, except for life-threatening situations and burials in Israel. On March 23, the Ministry's workers declared a general strike.
"We regret that we had to use this extreme measure, but after a year of work dispute, mediation and negotiations that were dragged out by officials of the Ministry of Finance, this was our last resort that proved itself," the Consulate said in a statement.
The director of wages department in the Ministry of Finance, Kobi Amsalem, said that the agreement "will strengthen foreign services and help Israel's emissaries work for a long time in service of Israeli diplomacy."
Though the goal of absolute equality may be impossible to realize, we learn from Yachatz that is it incumbant upon us to strive for equality.
The Jewish Social Policy Action Network has released its annual Haggadah Supplement for 2014, titled A Passage to Equality. The theme is overcoming inequality of opportunity.
Assembled and edited by three lawyers — Stephen Sussman, Jeffrey Pasek and Ken Myers — the Supplement addresses the Passover as a passage from slavery to equality, and seeks to provide additional relevance to the story with modern prayers and readings. The readings take up the meaning of Zdakah, how we address poverty and economic inequality as a society, women's rights issues, and other modern conditions that impact lives. The Haggadah Supplement provides fresh ideas and opportunities for discussion during the Seder.
The Supplement is a 12-page booklet, including photos. Download it as a pdf file for viewing or printing.
Links to JSPAN's previous issue oriented Haggadah supplements follow the jump.
Yesterday, March 31, was the last day of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare"). Those who have begun the signup process have two weeks to complete the process. Everyone else must now wait until November 15 to sign up unless they are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, or experience a "qualifying life event."
Typical qualifying life events include: moving out of state, certain changes in income, getting married or divorced, or having a baby.
Also, those who were unable to apply due to factors beyond their control (e.g. "Natural disasters. Domestic abuse. Website malfunctions. Errors by insurance companies. Mistakes by application counselors." etc.) can call 1-800-318-2596 and explain their situation in order to get a 60-day extension.
Many people procrastinated and had to rush in order to avoid a financial penalty and be covered before January 2015.
In states across the nation — red and blue — people lined up to apply for health insurance in person, call centers were swamped, and the healthcare.gov website buckled under the unprecedented load. The photos shown here give a flavor of what this looked like.
Janet Yellen (center) watching a welding student yesterday as she toured City Colleges of Chicago, College to Careers Program in Advanced Manufacturing. (John Gress/Reuters)
And she is Jewish too!
— by Elanna Cahn
Janet L. Yellen took office as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on February 3, 2014, for a four-year term ending February 3, 2018. Dr. Yellen also serves as Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, the System's principal monetary policy-making body. Prior to her appointment as Chair, Dr. Yellen served as Vice Chair of the Board of Governors, taking office in October 2010, when she simultaneously began a 14-year term as a member of the Board that will expire January 31, 2024.
Dr. Yellen is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley where she was the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics and has been a faculty member since 1980.
Begin counting at the second seder and continue counting each night preceding the next day. (Yom tov and Shabbat begin the evening before the graphic.) Before you know it, it'll be time to celebrate Shavuot!
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is an online non-profit volunteer based community newspaper serving the Philadelphia Jewish Community since 2005. We are dedicated to addressing the important social, political and cultural issues facing our community in a spirit of honesty, integrity and diversity.
Your tax-deductible donations will help give Voice to the Greater Philadelphia Jewish Community.
To pay by credit card or paypal, click here:
or send a check to:
Eric Smolen, Treasurer,
Philadelphia Jewish Voice,
327 Pembroke Road,
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is organized pursuant to
Pennsylvania's non-profit corporation law. We have tax-exempt status under IRS
Code Section 501(c)(3). Contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of
For more information about the Philadelphia Jewish Voice visit