The Adams Street Shul

Congregation Agudas Achim Anshei Sfard

RomeTriumphantThe Hebrew month of Tammuz has begun with its portent of the summer, accompanied by the beautiful revival of nature in all its splendor. Yet there is a sad historical note for us because on the 17th day of this month, which is a fast day, a three week period begins which culminates in Tisha B'Av, the saddest day in our calendar, the day on which both Holy Temples were destroyed.

Our annual cycle has six fast days, all of which commemorate an aspect of our exile.  Let me summarize them in a short review:

flags of IsraelWe were picked up at Ben Gurion airport by my grandson, Tzviki.  He is now a "Mefaked" (Commander) in the army, where his name is Tzvi. It was a wonderful reunion.  On the way to Jerusalem, he pulled the car to the side at 10:59 A.M.  One minute later, sirens all over Israel began to sound for two minutes.  We left the car and stood at attention as did many other cars and trucks.  All Israel came to a halt to remember the fallen soldiers who gave their lives to make the miracle of The State of Israel a reality.

We were taken to Efrat for the forthcoming celebrations.  First, there were to be services in the synagogues, after which a huge celebration was to take place.  Some of my grandsons, together with others, decided to have the services outside in an open field.  As the sun descended and darkness fell, Yair played his guitar as we sang sad songs marking Yom Hazikaron.  Suddenly, Dani introduced me to the group as his grandfather.  "How do you feel," he asked, having lived through the beginning of the Holocaust in Germany, and now being here in Israel with such a large part of your family?"  I was so so overcome by emotion that I simply had no words to respond.

chag_samIt was fated to happen.  It had been waiting for decades, perhaps even centuries, but it was inexorably destined to occur. It is a known fact even among marginally observant Jews: any chametz (leavened food) may not be owned during the entire festival of Passover. It is a stringency above and beyond the rules regarding non-kosher foods, which simply may not be eaten. This commonly accepted rule used to place the Jewish housewife in quite an annual quandary.  Does she throw all her non-Passover food out?  She could incur quite a loss, not to mention that wastefulness is, after all, frowned upon by religion. Businesses with large inventories stand to lose a lot more.

What to do?  The rabbis, in their inimitable wisdom, finally worked out a plan. Let all chametz be sold to a willing gentile.  Then, when Passover is over, this good person will relinquish his sale and the items will revert to the original Jewish owners.

Now that you have been introduced to this bit of Talmudic erudition, you must immediately be disabused of the notion that Stanley Medeiros was an anti-Semite. Nothing could be further from the truth. What he did was in justified anger, albeit that the reverberations of his actions echoed in Jewish circles around the world.

Megillah Being Read on PurimThe jovial festival of Purim is almost upon us and I want to take this opportunity of providing you with a short update regarding the laws and customs.  Should you have any further questions, please feel free to call me.  Usually, the Fast of Esther is the day before Purim. Since the festival is on Sunday this year, we move the Fast to the preceding THURSDAY. The Fast begins at 5:03 A.M. and ends at 5:58 P.M.  Following is a synopsis of the mitzvot of Purim: