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Oh My Gosh…Passover is Coming
March 17, 2010 – 10:03 am
Oh My Gosh…Passover is Coming

The intensive physical and emotional preparations for Passover come from one seemingly simple commandment: “Seven days you will eat only matzah, but on the first day you shall have put away chametz from your houses…” (Exodus 12:15). Therefore, by the beginning of the holiday of Passover, no chametz whatsoever may be in one’s possession.

What is chametz? Chametz is defined as leaven, any product in which wheat, oat, barley, spelt or rye come in contact with water for 18 minutes or longer (without kneading or manipulating). To be considered chametz, the food must be edible (defined as something that a dog would eat).

To eliminate chametz, it is necessary to clean one s home, office and even one s car. It is especially important to be particularly thorough when cleaning the kitchen and dining room areas, where food is generally found.

Once the house has been cleaned, it may be “turned over “–the kitchen converted from chametz status to “ready-for-Passover” use. “Turning over the kitchen” includes changing dishes and cookware to those reserved for Passover use and covering counters and table tops, which come in direct contact with chametz.

All food items that are actually chametz must be consumed before Passover, given away, thrown out or sold. In instances of significant monetary loss, it is customary to sell chametz through a rabbi to a non-Jew (e.g. unopened economy size boxes of cereal or bottles of scotch). For more details, please consult your local rabbi.

Any item that does not contain chametz, but is not specifically labeled Kosher for Passover, should be stored in a cabinet for the duration of the Passover holiday, and the cabinet taped closed.

Please note that this is a very brief overview. For more detailed information on Passover preparations, including the search for and burning of chametz, please visit NJOP s Passover Preparations page.

*This Treat was originally published on March 26, 2009. It is being re-Treated to help us better understand the month of Nisan and Passover.

For a look at the deeper meaning of chametz, please read Demystifying…Bedikat Chametz (The Search for Chametz), an article on NJOP’s Passover Writings page.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

Teach The Girls
March 16, 2010 – 10:03 am | One Comment
Teach The Girls

In the late 19th century, European Jewish communities began to notice that the younger generation of women were focused on the outside world and were no longer interested in maintaining the traditions of their foremothers.

While most people did little to change anything, one young Polish seamstress, Sarah Schenirer (1884 – 1935) not only transformed the world in which she lived, but her legacy continues to have a profound impact on Jewish life even today.

While her formal education ended at age 13, Sarah Schenirer’s father provided her with Hebrew/Yiddish texts, which she studied intently. Looking around at Jewish society, she was dismayed not only at the lack of piety that she witnessed but, most critically, at the lack of knowledge. While boys were sent to yeshiva, the girls were often uneducated, even in the basic tenets of Jewish life.

Realizing that the young women were already hardened against spiritual growth, Sarah Schenirer rented a small room and began a school with 25 girls. She faced great opposition. Even her brother thought her ambitions were foolish…until the Belzer Rebbe (of whom he was a chassid) blessed her endeavor. When her school gained the endorsement of Agudath Israel, Sarah Schenirer began receiving requests from other communities to help them start schools too. These new schools, known as Bais Yaakov (House of Jacob), were staffed by her first graduates.

Sarah Schenirer dedicated herself to convincing communities of the importance of educating their daughters, traveling extensively to seek the endorsements of the great rabbis of the era. Most importantly, she had the support of the leader of the generation, the Chofetz Chaim.

At the time of Sarah Schenirer’s death in 1935, Bais Yaakov had become a full-fledged movement. Today, around the world, there are hundreds of Bais Yaakov Schools dedicated to teaching Jewish girls and women.

-March is Women’s History Month

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

Ten Dating Mistakes Women Should Avoid
March 15, 2010 – 12:27 pm | 39 Comments
Ten Dating Mistakes Women Should Avoid

In response to my article about the mistakes guys make with respect to dating and relationships, several women have asked me the same questions about themselves. Many have asked why they aren’t meeting quality guys, can’t get second dates, or can’t keep a boyfriend. Well, ladies, instead of blaming the guys, perhaps it’s time to examine some of the things you might be doing wrong on your dates…

What’s In The Book: I Kings
March 15, 2010 – 10:03 am
What’s In The Book: I Kings

I Kings begins with Adonijah’s rebellion against his father, King David, the declaration of Solomon as heir to the throne, and King David’s death.

King Solomon built the Holy Temple. I Kings provides detailed architectural descriptions of the building. The completion of the Holy Temple was accompanied by great celebration.

Solomon’s empire stretched from the Euphrates River to Egypt, and the many vassal states paid him tribute. Solomon married many women for political reasons. He had over 700 wives and 300 concubines, including foreign ones who brought idolatry into his palace.

Solomon’s heir, Reheboam, ignored the elders’ advice and taxed the people brutally. The people rebelled and the once united kingdom was divided. Reheboam remained king only over the Southern Kingdom composed of Judah and Benjamin, while the remaining 10 tribes formed the Northern Kingdom, ruled by Jereboam ben Nevat.

Jereboam set up two golden calves (one in Bethel and the other in Dan) in order to prevent Jews from visiting Jerusalem, announcing to the people, “Here is your God!”

The two intertwined kingdoms struggled for survival and supremacy.
Judah’s kings (mentioned in I Kings) after Reheboam were: Abija, Asa, Jehosophat.
Israel’s kings (mentioned in I Kings) after Jereboam were: Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab.

A major player in I Kings is the Prophet Elijah, who spent much of his “ministry” confronting Ahab and Jezebel (queen and pagan priestess). There are many famous stories of Elijah and his battle against the idol worship promoted by Ahab and Jezebel, including Jezebel slaughtering the priests, Elijah’s “sacrificial duel” with the idolaters, as well as of the miracle wrought by Elijah providing food for the widow of Sidon and reviving her son from death.

I Kings ends with the death of Ahab during a battle against Aram.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

You Say Tomay’to, I Say Tomah’to
March 12, 2010 – 11:03 am
You Say Tomay’to, I Say Tomah’to

Just as Jews from different countries have different ritual customs, so too do their prayerbooks have slight but important variations. The different formats of the prayer service is known as a Nusach.

Nusach Ashkenaz came from central and eastern Europe and is the shortest of the different prayer versions. While the wording and prayer order of Nusach Ashkenaz is the same in all Ashkenazic communities, the tunes of the prayers vary greatly between the communities of Germany and Western Europe and those of Eastern Europe.

Nusach Sefard, a second Central/Eastern European Ashkenazic custom, used mostly in Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Ukraine. Nusach Sefard developed after the resurgence of the study of Kabbalah under the guidance of Rabbi Isaac Luria (Safed, Israel 1534-1572), better known as the Ari. Under the premise that the Sephardic rite is more spiritual, Nusach Sefard incorporates part of the genuine Sephardic nusach into already existing Ashkenazic traditions. Almost all Chassidic sects use Nusach Sefard.

Nusach Ari is a version of Nusach Sefard specific to the Chassidic sect of Chabad Lubavitch. In 1803, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (Lubavitch) compiled a siddur including what he believed to be the most accurate recreation of the Ari and Chassidic teachings.

Nusach Teman, the rite of the Jews of Yemen, is as distinctive as their unique pronunciation. There are two versions: Baladi and Shami (incorporates some Sephardi customs).

Nusach Sepharad is from the many Sephardic communities (i.e. North Africa, Middle East, Iran, etc.), which have many different, but basically similar, nuschaot. Many of the customs that differentiate these services are not based on written texts but are oral traditions. One of the most common Sephardi nuschaot is Nusach Edot Hamizrach, which originated in Iraq, but has grown in influence in the State of Israel.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

Estee and Justin
March 12, 2010 – 10:40 am
Estee and Justin

“Although we lived within a 10-minute drive of each other and had mutual friends, no one would have put us together if it wasn’t for JDate.”

First Date Mistakes: He-Friendly Tips from Today’s Top Experts
March 11, 2010 – 7:00 pm | 2 Comments
First Date Mistakes: He-Friendly Tips from Today’s Top Experts

While many men say they can do it in five seconds, statistics show that it takes anywhere between ninety seconds to four minutes for someone to properly size you up. So gentlemen, you better be all buttoned-up and on your toes on that first date. You don’t need to be a Casanova to impress a woman but you should be mindful of the mistakes that can spoil your chances of success.

Kitchen Gold
March 11, 2010 – 6:54 pm
Kitchen Gold

When I promised my husband that I would provide a steady supply of “Kitchen Gold” I think he was expecting something completely different than what he found in the freezer, refrigerator and sometimes balcony.

JDate’s Rabbi of the Month – Rabbi Ethan Franzel of Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
March 11, 2010 – 11:28 am | 6 Comments
JDate’s Rabbi of the Month – Rabbi Ethan Franzel of Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

“JDate, it’s simply something that is a part of the fabric of the modern Jewish world – for Jews across the generations, which is something I love! JDate Success Stories are inevitably fascinating because they are so varied – everyone has a story about how long they were on JDate, their successes and failures, the sometimes surprising relationship between an online profile and the person in real life, etc.” – Rabbi Ethan Franzel

Cut Off
March 10, 2010 – 11:03 am
Cut Off

“…Be as scrupulous in performing a ‘minor’ mitzvah as a ‘major’ one, for you do not know the reward given for the respective mitzvot. Calculate the…reward of a sin against its cost” (Ethics of the Fathers 2:1). While we do not know the full reward and punishment for each mitzvah in the Torah, there are some actions that are so severe that God Himself informs us that they are punishable by the dreaded Kareit.

Kareit, often defined as excision, is extremely hard to comprehend. In fact, the sages of the Talmud even debate what this punishment is. Many sages and rabbinic leaders have also noted that kareit may have a different effect on people today than it did in the days of the Holy Temple.

Kareit is often translated as being cut-off. It is believed that, in times when our connection to the spiritual realm was more tangible, kareit was actual death. (Not instant death, but rather death at a young age–under 60–accompanied by a lack of further offspring.) But, kareit is also understood as a spiritual excommunication, in which one’s soul is cut off from God.

There are 36 crimes for which one might receive kareit, but only if one purposefully committed the transgression and did not repent for the act. Some offenses for which one is punished by kareit are: incest, eating blood, and consulting ghosts or spirits.

Almost all of the sins for which kareit is a punishment are prohibitions. However, there are two positive commandments for which kareit is the punishment when they are not fulfilled. These are (1) to have oneself circumcised (if not done when a man was a baby) and (2) to offer the Paschal lamb (when one is not in a category allowing for exemption).

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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