JCoB Open Meeting
All members of the Reading and Berkshire Jewish community are invited to an open meeting on the future of the Jewish Community of Berkshire. Sunday 17 April 7:30pm at JCoB Central. This is your chance to let us know what you would like from your Rabbi and Rebbetzin as well as a chance for you to get stuck in and help with the many challenges ahead. Do also let us know if you require help with transportation.
Chametz as Chesed:
Please support the Reading Food Bank by donating your unwanted chametz (canned and dry goods only) in the run-up to Passover. Items will be collected at JCoB Central until Sunday 17 April.
SHABBAT / FESTIVAL EVENTS
Shabbat and festival morning services will be held again on the first two days and the last day of Passover. We appreciate your continued support in assuring an early minyan. On the second day of Pesach, we will hold our annual matzah picnic in the garden.
Enjoy the warmth and good food of a Pesach Seder at JCoB Central. RSVP to Rebbetzin Shira. Please also let Rebbetzin Shira know if you can offer a place at your seder to one of the many people who are new to JCoB.
Thanks to a generous donation, there is currently no charge for children, students or low income adults attending meals at JCoB Central.
For working adults, standard donations are: Dinners £15 Fancy lunches £10. Light lunches £5.
We welcome your sponsorship so that we can continue to offer hospitality.
The Alyth Chamber Choir will be performing on Sunday 17th April 2016, 6:00pm for 6:30pm at a local church. Tickets £10. Subscribe to this newsletter to receive full information and directions.
KOSHER FOOD NEWS
Sale of Chametz: It is a mitzvah not to own Chametz on Passover. Some people did not receive the previous email with the form attached due to IT problems. If you still need a form, please reply to this email and one will be resent to you. Forms must be returned by email to Rabbi Zvi or by hard copy at JCoB Central by Thursday morning 21 April.
Just Kosher is delivering to Reading tomorrow. Their website appears still to be accepting orders as this is written.
Many items including Passover matzah, cheese and ground nuts are also available from Ocado.com but care should be taken that such items are kosher for Passover and not just for year round. For advice on which products require certification, ask Rabbi Zvi directly.
Tescos at Kings Meadow currently has a variety of fresh kosher items in stock including dips and cold meats, but please beware that their matzah and matzah meal (among other products) are probably NOT kosher for Passover. Many Passover items are also available at Sainsburies in Calcot.
Before Pesach drives you mad (on Pesach 5776)
There is something you should know about the Mitzvot: they are there to be lived by and not to kill you. If you have any doubt about this then ask a rabbi. I know it’s scary, but it’s true. Rabbis intend people’s lives to be enhanced by practicing Judaism, not that their lives become a burden.
It is an irony not unnoticed by rabbis of every stripe that those things which are harder – such as Yom Kippur and Pesach – are often the very last vestiges to be cast off Jewish lives as we slip into the soup of secular nothingness. Indeed these are the two things which have most meaning for us – more Jews come to synagogue on the awesome and frankly difficult day of Yom Kippur, and more Jews buy kosher food for Pesach than any other. My wife tells of the Jewish boy who ate pork all the year around but who would not dream of eating bread on Pesach – he even ate his bacon between matzahs on those days.
We at home are in the final stretch of making our home kosher for Pesach, and clearing away the debris of the past year, which was not helped by the Cheder’s eviction from Goldsmid Road, or my eviction from the office there. Dust collects around belongings, and picture frames, and furniture, and other things. We reach places like the back of the fridge which almost never see a mop or a broom.
We are told that we need to clear out all the Chametz from the house. Let me initiate you into a new secret – something cannot be chametz if a dog would not eat it. This therefore applies to cobwebs, dust and other detritus which we should clear away for the sake of cleanliness but which is not necessarily verboten at this time of year. If it would be eaten by a dog it is chametz. Otherwise we have an exemption clause.
Surely this must be applicable to perfume, which is made with denatured alcohol. Whatever the source, if it is not fit for a dog to eat it cannot be considered Chametz. Who drinks perfume? Alcoholics, naturally. But an alcoholic will stoop to the gutter to get his or her fix of drug, if nothing else offers. No dog would drink perfume. Trust me, as a child I once tried to get our family pooch to do so and he ran from it.
There is another aspect of Pesach which we need to know about and which is a life-saver. There are plenty of things which we do not need to buy with a Hechsher (kosher stamp). They include, ground pepper (chametz? Really? Please!) salt, long-life milk bought before pesach, pasteurized milk and plain juices bought before pesach, dried fruit with no other additives bought before pesach, sugar, tea, coffee. That these are all available with hechsherim for pesach is undoubtable but they really do not need a hechsher. If you are in any doubt then please contact me for more details.
The fact is that we are told to go way beyond what is necessary for this festival. Hechsherim have become big business. It is insane to buy toothpaste, a teeth cleaning item, or soap or shampoo with no chametz. These are not things which a dog would eat, and while toddlers like the minty flavour of toothpaste it is not a sign that this needs a hechsher any more than an apple. The tendency to legitimize what is already legitimate makes us like small children, only small children with wallets funding the religious authorities at this time of year. Time to step back from the insanity of it all and practice Judaism without quite the huge books of labels which rabbis are so keen to slap on our lives.
Chag kasher v’sameach,
Purity (on Metzorah 5776)
The parasha this week deals with the issue of pure and impure with respect to human beings. People are of the misimpression that pure means clean. Of course this cannot be the case, as with all "impurities" of a spiritual nature, the cleansing is nothing to do with cleanliness, but rather with changing the status of a person or an item to make it fitting for the highest level of ritual use.
On the most basic level, a woman is forbidden to her husband at certain times in the month. Clearly this has nothing to do with her personal hygiene, and if she observes I'll traditional rituals, she will have a thorough bath and cleanse herself thoroughly, prior to entering the mikvah.
More than this, in religious circles, it is customary to view the world through the prism of purity and impurity. Perhaps this is reflective of Kabbalistic ideas. Secular culture is said by many in these circles to reflect many different levels of impurity, and things like film and television make your house impure.
As this coming week it is shabbat hagadol, the Shabbat before Pesach, we also remember the symbolism of purifying your own home of Chametz, and the concept of getting ready for Pesach by raising ourselves to a spiritual height. In ancient times we would have eaten the Paschal Lamb in a state of purity. Today we eat matzah and marror together in expectation of regaining as spiritual heights, and at the same time in the state of preparation which has been driving all sprinkling for the last three weeks.
The tradition is to wish each other a happy and kosher Pesach. I have heard this criticised as implying that the person receiving the greeting might not otherwise have a kosher Pesach. Yet, in these days of universal ritual impurity, does big the cleansing of our homes and the preparation for Pesach actually represent in our own minds a state of purification from the inflation of the chametzdik pride of the rest of the year, to create an island of ritual holiness in our unleavened homes.
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen’s article on Self-Defense can be found on http://jeremyrosen.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/self-defense.html
Rabbi Zvi’s two-minute Torah on Shabbat Hagaddol / Metzorah can be found on
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