SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–San Diego’s largest attended one-day Jewish community building event, Yom Ha’atzmaut takes place on Sunday, April 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the San Diego Jewish Academy, 11860 Carmel Creek Road, San Diego. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public. Parking is available for $5 at the Marriott Del Mar, 11966 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130. Free shuttle service is provided.
Sponsored by the Israel Center of United Jewish Federation of San Diego County, Yom Ha’atzmaut this year will feature 60 shops, Jewish community organizations and kosher foods, and fun and educational activities for children, teens and families not to be missed. The annual celebration of Israel’s Independence Day provides a festive conclusion to a month of holidays: Passover, which focuses on freedom, Yom Hashoah, commemorating all who died in the Holocaust, and Yom Hazikaron, honoring those who died fighting for the State of Israel and terror victims. This year’s event is designed to help participants connect with Jewish community in celebrating Israel.
Children can ride on the “Middle East Peace Train” from “Jerusalem” to “Cairo”, play on a climbing wall and bounce house, relive history as they dig up ancient coins, tiles and other artifacts in an archeological dig presented by the Agency for Jewish Education, or get balloon creations of their choice as part of the festivities. Adults may practice their Hebrew, Spanish and French in a series of “Cafés” offered by Kef Li – Tarbuton, appropriate for this holiday because Israel exemplifies diversity as the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. Attendees also may wish to hear Israeli Deputy Counsel Gil Arzieli present the latest news on U.S – Israel relations or learn about “Gifts Israel Gave the World,” from J.J. Surbeck, Executive Director of T.E.A.M, Training and Education About the Middle East.
Teens and adults can initiate their travel plans at “Experience Israel – Just Go,” co-sponsored by MASA and the UJF Israel Center. MASA, the Hebrew word for journey, consists of 150 programs in Israel for those ages 18 to 30, from 5 months to one year. The UJF Teen Trip to Israel is San Diego Jewish community’s annual summer trip, connecting teens to Israel and their local Jewish community through travel and post-trip volunteer activities. This one-stop center for journeys to Israel can save travel enthusiasts many hours preparing for their dream trip.
Young adults also can experience “Bedouin Hospitality” enjoying complimentary tea in Birthright NEXT’s Bedouin tent, while learning more about Birthright trips and ongoing social connections. New to Yom Ha’atzmaut this year also is a quiet area for those who observe Sefirat Ha’Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and the beginning of Shavuot (May 19-20) which counts the days from physical redemption/physical slavery to spiritual redemption when the Torah was presented at Mt. Sinai.
Israeli music and dancing at the main stage will be led by Kolot, a band comprised of former Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers. For more information on this day of fun, celebration and learning, please contact the Israel Center at 858.571.3444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preceding provided by United Jewish Federation of San Diego County
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO – For a moment, my daughter and grandson looked at me as if I were Dan Brown revealing not the secrets of the Da Vinci Code, but the hidden messages in the Harry Potter code.
I had told them that author J.K. Rowling had put herself into the Harry Potter novels, that Harry’s school friend Hermione clearly was Rowling’s alter-ego.
“What makes you say so?” asked Shor, 8, a dyed-in-the-wool Harry Potter fan.
“Sometimes authors like to send messages with the names that they give to their characters,” I suggested. “Rowling picked simple names for her boy heroes—‘Harry’ and ‘Ron’—but a complex name for her girl heroine, ‘Hermione’” I said, adding for good measure: “look how similar the words ‘heroine’ and ‘Hermione’ are.”
“Yes, so?” asked my daughter, Sandi, suspiciously.
“Well look at how Hermione is spelled,” I said. ‘Her-mi-one.’ Pronounce ‘mi’ like the musical note and it is ‘me.’ Separate the name into its component parts and it means “Her” and “me” are “one.”
“Way cool!” Shor exclaimed. You can’t help but love that boy!
“Not so fast,” demanded Sandi, who you’ve got to love despite her tendency to distrust some of her father’s stories. “That sounds like the same kind of faulty reasoning that convinced Beatles fans that Paul was dead. You know, he was wearing different clothes than the other Beatles on an album cover, so clearly he was no longer like them—he was dead—and all sorts of nonsense like that.”
I grinned shamefacedly. When it comes to Harry Potter, I’ve decided that my daughter can do no wrong. She turned Shor onto the series, transforming a boy who had to be coaxed into reading into one who now gobbles up books, even spurning programs on the Disney Channel and the Cartoon Network to read about Harry and the gang at the Hogwarts school.
Sandi is to Harry Potter books as I am to Star Trek movies and television episodes, I bragged to myself. Some years ago, I got Shor interested in Star Trek, winning his attention with the original series, featuring Captain Kirk played by William Shatner. Shor’s favorite character was Mr. Spock,the Vulcan portrayed by Leonard Nimoy. Then it was onto Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Patrick Stewart played Captain Jean Luc Picard. Shor’s favorite character was Data, the android portrayed by Brent Spiner.
Now we are almost finished watching all the episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine over which Captain Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, reigns. Shor’s favorite character is Odo, the shapeshifter played by Rene Auberjonois, although Quark, portrayed by Armin Shimerman, runs a close second because Shor met Shimerman in San Diego during the run of The Seafarer at the San Diego Rep.
My wife Nancy already has purchased for her “boys” Star Trek: Voyager, in which Voyager will be captained by Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). I can’t wait to learn who Shor’s favorite character will be in that one.
I had never read the Harry Potter novels until Shor asked me to follow him into them, even as he had followed me into the Star Trek world. His reasoning was both endearing and compelling: “It will give us more to talk about, grandpa.”
Star Trek DVD’s have the advantage of ‘pausability’’ Shor and I can stop action anywhere we want in an episode to discuss the questions being raised. One of my favorite episodes came during the ‘Next Generation’ series when the only Klingon in Star Fleet, Worf (Michael Dorn), was asked by a man from his world to join the Klingon cause and to forsake the Federation. Shor and I talked about concepts of loyalty. Here, said I, was Worf being asked to change his loyalty –in essence to switch sides from the Federation to the Klingon Empire.
Shor , a student at Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School, responded that Moses has switched his loyalties—from being an Egyptian prince to being a leader of the downtrodden Hebrews.
Besides Star Trek and Harry Potter, the stories of the Torah are among Shor’s favorite literary reference points.
This most recent Passover, he had the opportunity to help his one-year-old cousin, Brian, search for the afikomen during a seder at our house. Later in the week, visiting his great-grandfather Sam at the sprawling senior complex at the Ocean Hills Country Club, Shor and his brother, Sky, along with Brian, got to see what Christian kids do, participating with excitement in an Easter egg hunt.
Of course, the similarity between searching for the afikomen to later ransom and searching for an Easter egg to win a prize did not escape Shor. Nor did he fail to note that in both Passover and Easter an egg symbolizes the renewal of life.
Whether in The Da Vinci Code, Pesach, Easter, Star Trek or Harry Potter, symbols are an important part of story telling. I give Shor a thumb’s up for catching on.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World
By Rabbi Dow Marmur
JERUSALEM — Mimouna is a colorful tradition that North African Jews brought to Israel. It celebrates the end of the festival of Passover. Activities include much public jollification and eating of post-Pesach dishes made from recipes from the old country. It has also become an occasion for Israeli right-wing politicians (who traditionally have courted Oriental Jews in contrast to the Socialist founders of the state who tended to ignore them) to make speeches of the kind Mimouna audiences would want to hear.
Early media reports this year had much to say about the celebrations in the fast growing West Bank town of Ma’aleh Adumim, situated close to Jerusalem on the way to Jericho and the Dead Sea. The event was used by several government ministers to assure the local population that Ma’aleh Adumim was there to stay, irrespective of what the United States administration and the rest of the world may say about settlements.
One of the speakers this year was Israeli Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger, presumably trying to make nice to the Orientals as a way of compensation for the ill treatment to which the Ashkenazi establishment, including the rabbinate, subjected the arrivals from North Africa in the earlier days of the state.
Metzger isn’t known for his talents for political analysis (or for many other talents for that matter). This time he couldn’t resist the temptation to support the government position by an original historic observation. He’s reported to have said that long before Columbus discovered America, King David discovered/founded Jerusalem. The inference is obvious: in the same way as the United States is to remain the one indivisible super-power in the world, so Jerusalem will remain the one and indivisible capital of Israel – with much greater seniority in making its case and challenging the US president.
All this would be quite irrelevant hadn’t these speeches appeared to seek to replace Israeli diplomacy. Instead of trying to find a way of coming to an understanding with President Obama and his administration, Israel’s government seems to believe that by rousing the crowds back home at jolly Mimouna celebrations it’s really responding to the diplomatic challenges that it’s currently facing.
The country’s most popular daily, Yediot Achronot, reported another diplomatic initiative of the same ilk. Prime Minister Netanyahu is said to have asked Elie Wiesel, the best known Jew of our time, to use his alleged friendship with President Obama to persuade the latter to be nice to Israel. For many centuries the ghetto used shtadlanim, go-betweens who were highly regarded by the Jews and useful to the local squire, to intervene on behalf of their coreligionists with the authorities.
If the newspaper report is correct, the prime minister of the sovereign Jewish state is resorting to a similar method instead of formulating a policy and showing diplomatic acumen to meet the new challenge. This is a far cry from the way Abba Eban made Israel’s case before the community of nations.
Trying to make sense of what seem to be reactions by the government to the demands of the United States to curb settlement expansion and building in Jerusalem, it’s difficult not to conclude that they reflect embarrassing ineptitude. Perhaps King Abdullah of Jordan wasn’t as wrong as we’d like him to be when he told the Wall Street Journal on the eve of his US visit that Israel is isolating itself in the way of North Korea.
Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He now divides his time between Canada and Israel.
By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal
One such Jew was Rabbi Yechiel of Kozmir. He was fixated on observing every single law of the holiday and ridding his house of any and all chametz. A few days before Passover he would draw water from a well far from the city and guard it in his home, lest any grains accidentally fall into the water he would drink during the holiday. Even after he scoured his floor, he would not put a sealed bottle of wine on it lest it becomes “contaminated.” On Yom Kippur he would be worrying about Pesach. When he put on his kittel he made sure that no bread crumbs fell on it after the fast.
To insure that the wheat for his matza did not become chametz before the holiday, he would put it in a sack, then put the sack in a barrel, then hoist and hang the entire assembly from a rope attached to his ceiling. In this way he made sure that not a drop of water might touch it and spoil it for the holiday.
One year he called in a mill worker to help him take down the sack so that the wheat could be baked into matzot. The worker reached into his pocket and took out a knife to cut the rope from which the wheat hung from the ceiling.
As soon as he saw the knife, Rabbi Yechiel began yelling at the worker: “You’re using a regular knife! You should use a Passover knife instead!”*
Someone standing nearby shook his head at all of Rabbi Yechiel’s stringencies. “Everyone needs to observe Pesach and rid their houses of chametz,” he said, “but adding restriction after restriction diminishes the joy of the holiday.” (Sipurei Chasidim II, p. 287)
I agree with this bystander. Keeping Kosher for Passover is important but should never become an end in itself. It is rather a means to an end. Ridding our homes of chametz and eating matza and the special foods of the holiday are the ways we are reminding ourselves that God redeemed our ancestors from slavery. In the words of the Haggadah, “now some are still enslaved, next year may all be free,” and that we must work toward the day when all human beings will be free from all that still enslaves them and reduces the quality of their lives today.
This is the true message of Passover.
*The knife used to cut the rope comes nowhere near the wheat, and so does not have to be kosher at all.
Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego