For the first two days of Pesach, my husband and I were zocheh to be able to spend the Yom Tov with our children in New Jersey. What impressed me the most (aside from my grandchildren’s rendition of the Haggadah) was the friendliness of the community.
Each person I passed on the street immediately wished me a “Good Yom Tov” without my saying anything. Even an elderly man with a walker struggling up an incline wished me a “Good Yom Tov.” My aide was greeted by a myriad of “Good Mornings.”
All of this mentchlichkeit got me to wondering as to how the passersby on Kew Garden Hills’ streets rate when it comes to friendliness. What follows is an unscientific survey of our neighbors’ friendliness.
First, let me admit that I would not win any “Miss Congeniality” awards. I attribute this to my painful shyness and the fact that I am a rabbi’s daughter who was always told to say “Good Shabbos” to all the congregants. Anyone who has grown up in a rabbi’s house can relate to this. Nevertheless, I am sorry to say that, with the exception of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills’ members (of which I am one), a couple walking in from Hillcrest and a FedEx employee, who wished me a “Good Day” (even though I did not receive any packages), I was met with silence. To be fair, perhaps my mask muted my voice or perhaps there is some halachic prohibition to address a woman, but it is still upsetting.
Let’s remember Rav Moshe Feinstein who addressed a group of nuns with a “Good Morning” salutation each day, and as a result, the nuns paid a shiv’ah call to the Rav’s home after his p’tirah – or the story of the rabbi (I don’t recall his name) who said “Good Morning” each day to a German man whom he passed on the sidewalk. When the rabbi was sent to a concentration camp, this German man sent him to the line of those who would “live.”
The bottom line is that we should treat each other, regardless of shul affiliation or frumkeit, with basic decency. Let Kew Gardens Hills be as friendly as “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
‘Buy Palestinian Matzot!’
“Buy Palestinian Matzot!” Was a call to support Zion back in the days of the British Mandate.
On April 28, 1926, a headline for a Jewish Telegraphic Agency story read, “Arrangements Are Made to Sell Palestine Matzos in the United States.” It was part of an effort to further expand the growing Palestinian Matzah industry.
Palestine is a name of the land; it is not a nation. It is a title that has been often used for well over two thousand years. During Ottoman (1517-1917) and subsequent post-World War I British Mandatory rule, the inhabitants of Palestine – whether Jews, Christians, or Muslims – were often known as Palestinians.
Palestine Matzos! Those are matzos from the Land of Israel, produced by Zionist industry. Products of the land, whether it was wine, honey, or oranges, and so many other industries, were Palestinian in name and Zionist. Purchasing these products was a way of supporting the Zionist movement. In 1926, a greater push was made to sell Palestinian matzos to Jews worldwide.
It was a time when there was a wave of Jewish immigrants. Sixty-seven thousand had arrived very recently from Poland. More vibrant industries were needed to provide jobs supporting the Yishuv (the Jewish community of Palestine).
Samuel Aaronsohn was a United States representative of the Palestine Flour Mills, which was owned by British philanthropist Edmund de Rothschild, who was a strong backer of many Zionist enterprises. Aaronsohn was a sibling of Sarah Aaronsohn, a founder and heroine of the World War I pro-British spy ring NILI, which daringly assisted the British military campaign in Palestine, and NILI co-founders, the agronomist Aaron Aaronsohn and Alexander Aaronsohn. He called for support for purchasing Palestinian matzos, suggesting that “Jews here (in America) buy a percentage of their Palestine matzos with their other matzos.” This would be accomplished with the cooperation of the Manischewitz brothers, who were known distributors of kosher products.
On February 11, 1927, the negotiations in America progressed. Samuel Aaronsohn expressed hope that as many as 600,000 families might purchase matzos. The flour mill was a six-story building with 200 workers. Its current output was 20,000 pounds per day. There was hope that with more American Jewish interest, production would dramatically increase.
Other companies became distributors of matzah, as well. Yehudah Itim of the Haifa Chamber of Commerce negotiated the sale of 100,000 pounds of matzos from the Flour Company of Haifa to Julius Horowitz, of the New York Mizrach Wine Company. With the agreement reached, Horowitz formed Mizrach Matzo Company.
A week before Passover that year, an appeal by Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of the Palestine Mandate, Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, urged rabbis around the world to have their congregants purchase matzos from the Land of Israel. Rav Kook stressed that their manufacture would provide more employment for the Yishuv.
And so it happened. Palestinian matzos adorned Jewish holiday tables throughout America, and around the world. It was a means of observing the holiday and showing support for Palestinian Jewry and the return to Zion.
Every year in April, Larry Penner posts an opinion piece discussing Jackie Robinson’s breaking baseball’s “unofficial” color barrier. Yet there is another Larry curiously ignored by both Penner and history: Lawrence Eugene Doby.
On July 5, 1947, Larry Doby became the second black in Major League Baseball and the first in the American League. Unlike Robinson, who received mostly positive press coverage and support from his teammates, Doby’s teammates were initially cold and unresponsive, except for Joe Gordon. Doby endured the same indignities and humiliations as Robinson but was mostly ignored by the press. And Larry Penner. Doby went on to become the second Black manager in MLB.
Let us celebrate Earth Day, April 22, all year long. Recycle newspapers, magazines, glass, plastics, old medicines, paints, and cleaning materials. Leave your car at home. For local trips in the neighborhood, walk or ride a bike. For longer travels, consider many public transportation alternatives already available. Use MTA, NYC Transit subway or bus, LIRR, or NYCEDC private ferry. They use less fuel and move far more people than cars. Employers offer transit checks to help subsidize a portion of the costs. Utilize your investments and reap the benefits. You’ll be supporting a cleaner environment and be less stressed.
Many employers allow employees to telecommute and work from home full or part time. Others use alternative work schedules, which afford staff avoiding rush hour gridlock. This saves travel time and can improve mileage per gallon. Join a car or van pool to share costs of commuting.
Use a hand-powered lawn mower instead of a gasoline or electric one. Rake your leaves instead of using gasoline powered leaf blowers. The amount of pollution created by gasoline-powered lawn mowers or leaf blowers will surprise you.
A cleaner environment starts with everyone.