Monthly Archives: April 2016

Approaching the End of Pesach

So, here we are, the last day of Hol HaMoed, the intermediate “half-holidays” in the middle of Pesach. Tonight, we begin the last 2 days which are “full-holidays” leading up to the ancient and sacred words which will be spoken throughout the Jewish world on Saturday night, called; “Can we go out for pizza now?”.

By this point on the holiday of Pesach, most of us have eaten more candy and Pesach cookies than we should have. Our refrigerators are notably emptier than they will be over the entire year as the last of the Seder leftovers have either been eaten or disposed of and we’re desperately looking for something other than gefilte fish to eat.

The truth is that too often Pesach turns into the holiday of  eating habits rather than the holiday remembering slavery and redemption.

We do pretty well at our Seders focusing on the serious questions of freedom and celebrating our redemption but as the holiday goes along, we tend to focus on the fact that we can’t stop at Starbuck’s, have to drive past Dairy Queen without stopping and the reality that meals, especially breakfast it seems, are just so difficult.

That is truly unfortunate.

The themes of Pesach are eternal. They are intended to inspire us throughout the entire year, let alone through the 8 days.

So, at this point of our Pesach observance, I suggest that we all take a long look at the matza at some point today and remember what this holiday is all about.

As Rabbi Blumenthal and I wrote in our Pesach message to the congregation:

The Exodus story helps us to be sensitive to the plight of refugees. It helps us to be aware of the imperative to care about those who are not free in this world, and work to free the victims of modern day slavery. The Haggadah reminds us to teach the next generation to ask questions and to find appropriate answers for all of our children. Finally, the eternal symbols of the Seder remind us that we must to seek ways to adapt our ancient faith to today’s world and to build for an even more vibrant future our people.

These are messages that do not lose importance after the Seders. They must remain as the central point to focus on throughout this holiday, throughout all 8 days.

Hag Sameach!


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Play Ball!

The snow that fell in Ann Arbor yesterday and the very cold temperatures this morning are just an illusion, folks. Spring and summer are here! The first pitch of the baseball season takes place in my “adopted  home town” of Pittsburgh and in at least one sense: “All’s right with the world.”

My Red Sox don’t open until tomorrow and the weather in Cleveland is “iffy” to say the least. In fact, the entire week in Cleveland seems to be doubtful for baseball. But, I’m still hoping, if all goes well, to make the trip on Wednesday to see the Sox. We’ll see how the week develops.

Meanwhile, a word of tribute.

I love to listen to baseball announcers. I have my favorites. I grew up listening to Red Sox broadcasters Curt Gowdy, Ken Coleman and, my personal favorite, Ned Martin, who would say: “Mercy” whenever anyone his a long home run. I loved listening to  Joe Garagiola poke fun at his own baseball career on “the game of the week”. When I moved to the Philadelphia area, I loved listening to Harry Kalas and how he would stretch out the name of his favorite player: “Michael Jack Schmidt”. When I came to Michigan, I learned to appreciate Ernie Harwell talking about a hitter taking a third strike but “standing like the house by the side of the road”.

But, my absolute favorite baseball announcer is retiring this year and I can’t imagine baseball without him even though I get to hear him very rarely. Vin Scully, announcer of the Dodgers, is, in my mind, the best I have ever heard. His tendency to be understated, to let silence carry the scene as he did when Kirk Gibson hit his unforgettable home run in the 1998 World Series  just rank him as the best ever. Here is a clip but you have to listen the entire video right to the end.

I know that I often engage in nostalgia in this blog. But, I think it is fair to say that as good as some “modern” announcers are, there are none like the “old timers”. I know baseball will survive without Vin Scully but something will certainly be missing.

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