L'Chaim Magazine Passover Issues April 2020

Page 1

APRIL 2020


Jewish San Diego Community Resources

PASSOVER! Cyber Celebration

18 UNDER 18





contents April 2020 • www.lchaimmagazine.com

A LETTER FROM L'CHAIM An Unprecedented Time.......................................................................................................................................


COVER STORY Jewish Teen Initiative: 18 under 18.....................................................................................................................

1000 WORDS New Immigrants to Israel Jump Right in... to a Coronavirus Quarantine........................ FOOD Modern Kosher: Tomato Matzo Ball Soup with Pickled Garlic Chives..............................

FEATURES Litvak Dance.......................................................................................................................................................




16 18

20 22

Financial - Rowling...........................................................................................................................................




24 26

Jewish wisdom and teachings in the time of coronavirus..................................................... Nineteen ways you know it’s Passover in Israel.......................................................................... COLUMNS

08 10

A Message from Federation.....................


Mazel and Mishagoss............................

Torah: Of the Book..........................................

PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller


L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO, LLC (858) 776-0550 San Diego, CA 92127

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Daniel Bortz, Michael Gardiner, Donald H. Harrison, Steve Horn, Stephanie Lewis, Salomon Maya, Terra Paley, Mimi Pollack, Rachel Stern, Eva Trieger, Deborah Vietor, Chana Jenny Weisberg


Diane Benaroya (dianeb@lchaimmagazine.com) 4


Copyright ©2019 L’Chaim San Diego LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator” to: publisher@lchaimmagazine.com Published in San Diego, CA • www.lchaimmagazine.com


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A LETTER FROM L'CHAIM An Unprecendented Time Staying connected to the Jewish San Diego Community during these ever-changing times.

Together, we can get through these trying times, and come out stronger than ever.




s fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and families shelter in place in San Diego county, we, the publishers and staff of L’CHAIM magazine, want to reassure our readers that we will continue to operate as we always have. That means bringing you the feel-good stories you’ve come to expect from us, as well as the news as it unfolds and affects the Jewish community both here and across the globe. With that in mind, we’ve curated a list of quality information on the resources available to Jewish San Diegans. We’ve got it covered, from virtual Passover seders and museum tours to free online resources for families with children. Additionally, we have created a list of all the local synagogues with streaming services and events during this time. The resource, “The Best COVID-19 Resources for the San Diego Jewish

Community” is available now at lchaimmagazine.com, and will be updated regularly, so check back often for more information. These are unprecedented times we are living in. The Jewish community is full of resiliency and our people have endured far worse than this. Together, we can get through these trying times, and come out stronger than ever. We wish our readers good health, safety and happiness, and know that we are here for you if you need us. For more information go to lchaimmagazine.com/resources/covid19 L’CHAIM!

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the bright spot

Finding strength and guidance in our community

Federation of San Diego County launched a senior phone bank that mobilizes volunteers to be in regular communication with thousands of seniors. The phone bank was set up in consultation with the Lawrence Family JCC, Leichtag Foundation, Jewish Family Service, Seacrest at Home, and G’mach Jewish Gift Closet to ensure we had an integrated approach to problem solving and were efficiently leveraging existing services. Initially, access to food and medicine took priority, but we quickly learned that a friendly voice in the face of isolation can be just as instrumental. Many of our volunteers and professionals are building beautiful friendships, even sharing favorite TV shows and recipes. Friendship in the face of COVID-19, a novel concept.


n times of crisis, we look to our Jewish institutions for comfort, strength, guidance and support. Today, and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our beloved organizations, agencies, and schools are facing radically changing environment. Established institutions are experiencing an influx of new clients, overwhelming systems that were already reaching capacity. We are all being asked to adapt, innovate, and pivot in a time of budgetary and financial uncertainty. Our day schools, for example, are providing exclusively virtual education for their students. Without skipping a beat, educators are conducting classes and creating a sense of normalcy for students. How we flex, how we show up matters more than ever before. In anticipation of an inevitable shelter in place policy, the Jewish 8


Budding friendships aside, organizations are taking on new, complex responsibilities and we need to adapt to support them. Right now, our Jewish institutions need us. That’s why, together with the Jewish Community Foundation and Leichtag Foundation, the COVID-19 Emergency Fund was opened to help address the most immediate and pressing needs of individuals and organizations. Chaired by longtime community leaders and philanthropists Emily Einhorn, Leo Spiegel, and Brian Tauber, the fund will support those members of our San Diego Jewish community who are most impacted. Needs will be dynamic, evolving, and vast, but as we move through this crisis we know that the San Diego Jewish community is doing what it does best, banding together, and you guessed it, showing up. We will get through this. We will be stronger because of it. And, if you are feeling like you need the embrace of our community, please visit us online at jewishinsandiego.org/covid or send an email to info@jewishinsandiego.org.

The closeness of family and friends gathered together in thankful celebration. A special feeling. A special warmth.

Best wishes from all of us at Passover. • • • • •

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the book We are all connected


hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. As I write this, we are being quarantined with our families, uncertain what the future holds. In darkness, Judaism urges us to search for light. Nothing happens in this world devoid of meaning and wisdom. With the coronavirus sending fear throughout the world, what are we being taught? First, we don’t live in a bubble — we are all connected, our destinies intertwined. All of humanity — from NBA athletes and Oscarwinning celebrities to the poorest farmers in Asia and Europe — is being affected equally by this virus. In 1986, the Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke about the recent discoveries in atomic energy — how the tiniest quantity of matter, an atom, can unleash the most immense power imaginable. By simply pressing a button, a person could destroy much of the world. But, he emphasized, atomic energy could also be harnessed for a myriad of positive transformational uses across the globe. If it’s so simple through one action to cause such devastation, how much more is this true in the realm of the positive? One good deed you do can have a ripple effect across the entire



world. Another major lesson is this quarantine. When I look back, I have quarantined myself for six years already. Two years of yeshiva in Jerusalem, two years in Brooklyn, one in Toronto and another in New Haven — oftentimes I learned alone or with one or two others the entire day. I left a school of over 30,000 people at UCSB for schools with often less than 100, because I saw the incredible value in learning, praying, and working on self-development. In our loud world we can overlook how moments of silent reflection have the power to move worlds and shape how we approach everything in our lives. There are only two places in the Torah where a person is termed matzliach — successful. Both times it was for Joseph once after he was sold into servitude, and the other when he was framed and thrown into a dungeon. Both times he was forsaken and alone — by his family and seemingly by forces beyond him and yet that’s when his actions are deemed to have been truly successful. He never gave in to the darkness that surrounded him or that should have consumed him.

Joseph believed in divine providence and knew he was placed in these situations for a reason. He saw two sad prisoners with him and instead of rightfully wallowing in his own anxiety and sadness, he asked them why they were sad. This caring led to his freedom and the fulfillment of his life’s mission as viceroy to Pharaoh. Against our will, we are being placed in isolation and uncomfortable circumstances. We are taught to see every situation through the lens of meaning and purpose. How can I best utilize this time to better myself, grow, and help those around me? The word quarantine comes from quarantena, a variant of the Italian quaranta giorni, meaning “40 days. Like Moses who spent 40 days on Mount Sinai learning Torah from God, may we utilize this unique time to learn, reflect, pray, and be a force of healing to others. All of humanity is in this together. Let’s never underestimate the power of one deed, beacause now’s the time we all need each other most. And may we all come out of this stronger, more elevated and more unified than ever before!

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week from Highland Park, N.J. The hardest part? Not being able to go outside or see the kids or grandchildren who live in Israel. (His wife Clara came two weeks earlier before quarantine was mandated, so is able to run errands and bring in food etc.). The empty arrival hall at Ben“I figured that Israel Gurion International Airport on is one of the safest March 11, 2020. Photo by Flash90. places to be right now because of its proactive he first few weeks after making aliyah policy — one of the strictest in the world,” he are typically a flurry of activity, with says. “But I was still shocked when I landed the newly minted Israeli dashing and witnessed Ben-Gurion Airport deserted.” from government offices to banks to setting Still, says Bassous, he’s “so happy to be up utilities to schools to register the kids, not home after a 2,500-year exile.” His own to mention finding a terrific falafel stand. journey has spanned his Calcutta birthplace, But what if instead of all that, upon arrival England and Jerusalem as a student before you were transported to your new home moving to Canada, and from there to the and instructed to stay there for two weeks? United States and now, at age 61, to Israel. Everyone moving to Israel after March 4 — And like Bassous, most of the folks on the the Jewish Agency puts the number at 163 Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah list have soldiered (and returning Israelis as well) needs to stay on with their plans to make Israel their in quarantine; in Hebrew, bedood — for new home, coronavirus or no coronavirus, two weeks before they can venture out and quarantine or no quarantine. explore their new home. “It makes sense,” says Rabbi David Aaron, “On the list of stressors, moving is right author of The Secret Life of God, among up there,” says Jerusalem-based social others and dean of Isralight who moved worker Aliza Shapiro, who often works with to Israel from Toronto at 18. “Once you’ve immigrant teens and who made aliyah herself made the decision to come and live your life’s from Cleveland in 2010. “And when you’re dream in Eretz Yisrael, this isn’t going to stop moving to a place where everything is new you. It’s the greatness of these people and this to you: the language, the culture, the grocery land that shows itself at a time like this.” stores, quarantine adds another layer of stress The silver lining: Crises tend to bring to on top of the rest.” the fore the time-honored Israeli tradition “I didn’t realize how hard quarantine would of welcoming the newcomer, whether it’s be,” says David Bassous who made aliyah last




dropping off dinner, a tip on the best dentist in town or helping out with the kids. (In addition, the Jewish Agency and other groups are making sure that quarantined new olim don’t go without necessities). “It’s one of the qualities that makes Israel so special,” says Shapiro. At 44, Yehoshua Zepeda is a media producer, photographer, sculptor and writer. And, as of last week, he’s also an Israeli. During his 12 years in New York City, “on the busy Manhattan treadmill running my own video-production business, I realized I’d lost touch with my spiritual center,” he says. He had just returned from a two-month stay in Israel. “And I got back to New York and felt like it was no longer my home, like I’d left the core of me back in Jerusalem.” Last winter, after completing graduate studies in documentary filmmaking in California, Zepeda began making arrangements for his move. He never expected, however, to arrive at the same time that the coronavirus was sweeping across the globe. “But even when I heard about it, I figured I’d much rather be quarantined in Jerusalem than in Los Angeles. It’s a small price to pay.” Nefesh B’Nefesh, which facilitates the aliyah process for those from North America and the United Kingdom, is opening a hotline (1-866-4-ALIYAH in the United States) for arriving olim to help them navigate their somewhat restricted early aliyah process. “These new olim, more than ever, represent the strong future of the State of Israel,” says co-founder and executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “They are determined to fulfill their dreams of helping to build the Jewish nation.”

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t’s an annual Passover matzo-ball conundrum: “sinkers” or “floaters” for matzo balls. Both are valid choices, at least in theory, but if I wanted a heavy ball in my soup, I’d go with Mexican albondigas (meatballs). I knew the theory of floaters, at least part of which involves incorporating beaten egg whites (along with seltzer water and baking powder) into the matzo balls to make them light, fluffy, and airy. The issues were not beating the egg whites enough or incorporating the solids into the egg whites too heavily. So, I knew I would have to beat the egg whites nearly to the point of stiff peaks. I would also have to be very, very gentle in folding in the matzo meal. But I also had a trick up my sleeve, a little bit of modernist cuisine. Not the whizzbang, smoke and mirrors showmanship side of it but, rather, the practical side. The substance in egg whites that lets them do their magic is called lecithin. It is an excellent emulsifier. One of the basic tools of the modern gastronomy arsenal is soy lecithin, which is available at vitamin and supplement stores like GNC or online from such exotic retailers as Walmart (and which is kosher for Passover according to Sephardic Jews but not most Ashkenazis). So, to amp up the effect of the egg whites, I decided to kick up my matzo balls with a tablespoon of soy lecithin. The result was floating, pillowy matzo balls. TOMATO MATZO BALL SOUP WITH PICKLED GARLIC CHIVES

Serves 4 to 6 For the pickled garlic chives: 4 to 6 garlic chives 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

For the soup: 6 medium tomatoes 2 large white onions, peeled and quartered 3 cloves garlic, peeled 3 tablespoons grapeseed, canola, or another neutral oil 2 leeks (white parts only), cleaned, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced 8 cups Chicken Stock 2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and sliced Juice of 4 key limes For the matzo balls: 3 large eggs 1 tablespoon grapeseed, canola, or another neutral oil 1 tablespoon seltzer water 1/2 cup matzo meal 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon soy lecithin 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 6 cups Chicken Stock To make the pickled garlic chives: 1. Trim the garlic chives to about 3 inches, or wherever the chive stems get excessively fibrous. Combine the salt, brown sugar, and vinegar in a large bowl and whisk to fully dissolve the solids. 2. Bring a saucepan of water to boil over high heat. 3. Add the garlic chives to the boiling water and blanch until their color brightens, about 15 seconds. Do not let them fully wilt. Immediately transfer the garlic chives to the pickling liquid, adding water as needed to cover. 4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. To make the soup: 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. Place the tomatoes, onions, and garlic on

the prepared sheet and roast until blistered and the onions are beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. 3. In a large soup pot, sweat the leeks in the oil over low heat until just translucent, about 3 minutes. 4. Add the roasted vegetables and chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. To make the matzo balls: 1. While the soup is cooking, separate the egg whites from the yolks, reserving the yolks, and transfer the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 2. Beat the whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. 3. Whisk the oil and seltzer into the reserved yolks and gently fold into the whites. Combine the matzo meal, salt, soy lecithin, and baking powder in a medium bowl and fold into the egg mixture as gently as possible using a plastic spatula. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, line another baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the matzo ball material from the refrigerator. Working with moist hands (have a bowl of water handy to refresh), take a heaping tablespoon of the matzo ball material and form into a ball. Repeat with the remaining matzo ball material. To finish and serve the soup: 1. Bring the soup back to a boil and gently add the matzo balls to the pot. 2. Reduce the heat, add the chiles and lime juice, and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. 3. Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Float 2 or 3 matzo balls in each bowl and garnish with the garlic chives.



F E AT U R E S T O R Y The final piece in the Reimagining Suffrage Suite titled “Zephyr Unfolding.”






t’s a good thing we Jews are a resilient people! We’ve been through trying times and continue to rise above the hurdles. Sadly, another example of this comes with the postponement of LITVAKdance Spring 2020 Performance. Sadie Weinberg, founder and creator of this small company will not be deterred by these recent developments but will continue to hone her craft and looks forward to rescheduling the show once the coronavirus is history. This almost three-year-old company was birthed by Weinberg and was originally comprised of eight women. The company now has seven women but has added a man or two into the mix. Weinberg’s intention was to “give back to the community through movement.” To achieve this goal, the North County-based company, offers open Sunday classes with guest dancers, thematic workshops, summer workshops Aikido and Argentine Tango as well as a blending of styles and cultures. Sadie looks forward to doing more outreach and sharing Chanukah stories, such as Isaac and the Bear and The Red Knit Cap Girl that would inspire children to think about human impact on our planet, and how they might take an active role in curbing pollution. The fledgling company’s name has old roots. Weinberg’s husband’s family arrived in the United States from Lithuania. Her husband’s great-great-grandfather was a tailor who came to America to escape persecution. While exploring his history, Weinberg learned a great deal about other immigrants including Eastern Europeans who found their way to South Africa, to Canada and eventually to the United States. This idea of immigration and equality inspired an entire repertoire. The company dancers perform solos amid three larger group pieces in Reimagining Suffrage and Other Stories. This show was created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote nationally. Four courageous, though lesser-known pioneer women will be memorialized through “somatic melodies” as LITVAKdance shares their biographies through movement and music. While the dancers tell the unique stories of these women, they are also “asking audiences to consider prohibitions associated not only with gender, but also race, class, faith, sexual orientation, and gender identity…”

Each woman’s story is accompanied by the haunting music of Meredith Yayanos, who performs on violin, and a novel instrument: the theremin. One of the solos depicts the life of Eliza Jenny Scripps who is best remembered and celebrated for her eccentric and outspoken character. She was one of the La Jolla Pioneers. Her largesse supported the Bishop’s School in La Jolla. María Amparo Ruiz de Burton was a young Mexican woman who, at the age of 15 fell in love with an American soldier, and moved with him to Jamul, where she became naturalized. After her husband’s death, Maria was forced to fight legal battles to retain her homestead of Rancho Jamul as the land had belonged to her family when it was part of Mexico. She was able to retain it after marrying her American husband, but following his death, had to fight to hold on to it. She bravely lobbied for her land, simultaneously nurturing a successful literary career. Eileen O’Connor or Lady in White of Vallecito is a ghost story of a young woman on her way to meet her lover in Sacramento. The mournful tale relates that she died at the Vallecito Stage Station and was buried just yards away. Rumor has it that her ghost wanders the desert nightly, wearing what would have been her white wedding gown. A former slave and laundress during California’s gold rush days, America Newton, helped launch the town of Julian and established it as a haven for freed slaves. The courageous maverick owned a small business and an 80-acre homestead near Julian, where she resided for fifty years. Other pieces in the concert include group performances She/Her/Hers which is choreographed by Tamisha Guy and showcases six women, dancing in “a fluid amoeba-like unit.” Tamisha, the choreographer of this piece, dances for the company of Kyle Abraham in New York. Another piece, Girls with Balls, is a “witty and playful vignette” that considers all of the many balls society forces women to juggle. This is choreographed by SDSU professor emeritus, Patricia Sandback, who is 83, disproving the concept the dance is the domain of the young. The final piece in the repertoire is Mr. President. This excerpt, choreographed by Faith Jensen-Ismay on her company Mojalet Dance Collective, is

intended as a call to action for all Americans “to have an equal voice in our democratic process.” Visual artist Wren Polansky will also collaborate with images on display alongside the dancers. LITVAKdance is a family affair, as Sadie is a second-generation dancemaker, following in the footsteps of her mom, Betzi Roe, who though recently retired, continues to perform and choreograph dances for others. Husband, Greg, was also a dancer when the two met while performing in Richard Move, American choreographer’s show Martha@ The Lyceum. This project celebrates the work of Martha Graham, often referenced as “the mother of modern dance.” Weinberg has been influenced and inspired by Neil Greenberg, Yolande Snaith, Kevin Wynn and Doug Varone among many others. Her formal training at SUNY and UC Irvine have given her work greater depth and breadth, as well as her experiences in local and international programs and festivals. The current company is comprised of Ashely Akhavan, María José Castillo, Beverly Johnson, Berlin Lovio, Emily Miller, Erica Ruse, April Tra and Artistic Director, Sadie Weinberg. Curious to know where Weinberg finds her dancers, I was told that they come largely through the courses she teaches at area colleges and universities. It is important that the dancers are comfortable with each other, and so the vetting process is critical. Weinberg told me that many of her colleagues prefer to head to New York to establish a company, however, she is committed to San Diego and feels compelled to stay here and “give young dancers a place to perform and find their voice.” I, for one, cannot wait to see this exciting, innovative and important performance as it honors our rich and multifarious San Diego. Honoring our women of valor, bravery and ethnicities feels like a well-timed endorphin boost. With her goal of universal suffrage, Weinberg wants to celebrate our power as a collective. Through live musical accompaniment, audiences and dancers are inspired to erase partisan lines and embrace each other through art and movement. KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR THE NEW DATE FOR LITVAKDANCE'S REIMAGINING SUFFRAGE AND OTHER STORIES AT LITVAKDANCE.ORG/PERFORMANCES.









s the coronavirus continues to spread, its effect on the market, and the world, is becoming more and more noticeable. News of increased cases, travel restrictions, and Stay at Home orders dominate the headlines. When our newsfeeds are constantly bombarded by these negative stories, it can be hard to find the bright side — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! Though these are certainly trying times, there is a silver lining to the coronavirus chaos. WAYS TO KEEP YOUR PORTFOLIO STRONG

Prior to the spike in coronavirus cases in the past few months, the U.S. stock market was in the midst of a nine-year period of expansion. With so many years of positive returns fresh in our minds, many people reacted with panic as the market began to suddenly drop. What you may not know is that a down market actually presents some good opportunities for potential tax benefits, as well as a chance to evaluate the success of your portfolio, if you don’t let your emotions run the show. The one thing you should not do in the midst of a volatile market is duck out! Though staying the course may seem counterintuitive given our current situation, this is actually the best strategy to ensure that you won’t miss out on the market’s eventual recovery. You might be thinking to yourself, “But surely it makes sense to get out now, rather than continue to accumulate losses?” This is just your emotions talking! Getting out of the market actually locks in your losses, and studies have shown that being out on a big recovery day can do more damage than just riding it out. Keep in mind that, so far at least, the market’s situation is less of a plunge and more like a bungee jump. Some days, it is down, others it has bounced back up. Pulling out of the market in a panic means you’ll miss out on the opportunity for positive returns on the “up” days and other additional benefits as well. One of the best strategies you can take advantage of during a market as volatile as

the one we are experiencing now is tax loss harvesting. Actively harvesting tax losses means that you sell loss positions to capture tax benefits and simultaneously replace those positions with a similar investment. So, when the market eventually bounces back, you will be able to begin your recovery process quickly — with a host of tax benefits locked in as well! Another way to keep your portfolio strong in a volatile market is to take advantage of rebalancing. When prices drop in one segment of the market, rebalancing pushes us to buy more — essentially taking advantage of bargains. A downturn like we are experiencing right now also offers an opportunity to evaluate the success of your portfolio. For example, if you are invested in a diversified mix of stocks and bonds, your risk of loss is minimized because if one position performs poorly over a certain time period, others may perform well which will ultimately reduce the overall potential for loss. Diversification is also a smart idea because it means you are not relying solely on one source for income. As we are seeing during this current crisis, some industries are being negatively affected, while others, such as companies that are working to create vaccines or provide materials to prevent the spread of disease, are doing quite well. ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL CHANGES

In addition to its impact on the market and portfolios, the coronavirus pandemic has led to several other changes that could actually benefit you financially. One of these is the waiving of interest on student loan payments. While this won’t lower the amount of your monthly payment now, it could allow you to save more over the total lifetime of your loan — or even pay your loan off faster. If you are in a position to do so, you may want to consider making higher payments to your student loan during this time. If you are currently experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic, you do have the option to defer your loan payments for up to

60 days with no penalties. You can contact your loan servicer to request this deferment. Many other institutions such as phone providers, credit card providers, and banks are suspending payments as well. With so many fees being waived and so many businesses temporarily closed, now could be a good time to reevaluate your spending and focus on building up your savings. Or, if your finances allow it, you can increase your charitable donations, leading to the possibility of more deductions on your 2020 tax return. NEW TAX LAWS

The escalating coronavirus situation has also resulted in changes to the tax laws. Most notably, the date to file for 2019 has been moved from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. The date to pay has also been moved to July 15, 2020. The changes to these dates have led to adjustments to other rules as well. You now have until July 15 to contribute to an IRA or Health Savings Account. Although no other changes have been confirmed at this time, it is possible that adjustments could be made to the rules for Required Minimum Distributions as well. As new rules are unveiled every day, it is incredibly important to be aware so that you can take advantage of any potential benefits coming out of this difficult situation. FINAL THOUGHTS

There is no denying that we are living in the midst of some truly trying times, and there is no way to know when these circumstances will change or what the long-term effects of this pandemic will be. That said, the news is not all bad! There are ways to turn the negative aspects of this situation to your advantage. Contact our firm today if you would like a review of your investments and a recommendation for a strategy to maximize potential tax benefits during this period of market volatility.



passover IN THE TIME OF

CORONAVIRUS Jewish wisdom and teachings • By Ellen Beck, MD


Both strengthen immunity. People deprived of sleep who are exposed to a cold virus are more likely to get sick. Rabbi Chanina ben Chachinai, in Pirke Avot, teaches, “Staying awake is like forfeiting one’s life.” Maimonides uses Deut. 4:9, “Guard ourselves”, to encourage exercise, healthy eating, and eight hours of sleep. “When keeping the body in health and vigor, one walks in the way of God,” Maimonides, Mishnah Torah, Hilkot Deot 4:1 In stressful times, let us double our sources of strength and nourish body, mind, and spirit. The last verse of Adon Olam is “In your hand I place my spirit from when I sleep to when I wake, and I will not fear.” Imagine the hands of G-d and curl up within.


t our Seder, we ask, Where in the world is there oppression that must be addressed? How, this year, will I move from slavery to freedom? Covid-19 can feel oppressive. Bob Marley teaches, "We must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, only we can free our minds.” Victor Frankl taught to choose our attitude towards events. What do our sages teach? What advice can we draw from Jewish teachings? SHELTER IN PLACE.

Makom, the Hebrew word for place, is a name for G-d. In Exodus, Jacob says, “How full of wonder is this place, God was in this place, and I did not know.” We are in place. Let us seek the wonder. WASH HANDS WITH SOAP AND HOT WATER, 20 SECONDS.

The Talmud teaches to wash hands before and after meals, after the bathroom, when changing clothes, and when touching unclean things. As we feel the water on our hands, we can take an awe pause, say the blessing, sing the Misheberach, and imagine, “Let our hands be filled with your blessings,” (Avinu Malkeinu). 24



A total of 48 times in the Torah, we are admonished to care for the widow and the orphan. Let us think of our most vulnerable, the frail elderly, the immunocompromised, those without food, or who can’t pay the rent, and practice tzedakah, justice. At our free clinic, students are delivering food and medications to people’s homes, to people who have nowhere else to turn. I find myself profoundly grateful to have a roof, a place to shelter, a steady income, enough food to eat. During Pesach, we drop out one drop of wine for each plague, because our glass cannot be full as long as there are those in need. Let’s bring back the bumper sticker, “Think globally, act locally.” PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING.

During plagues, people would be quarantined until the Kohen said they were disease free. This is a time of tzimtzum. As the Zohar teaches, to create the world, God had to withdraw part of themself and in that place the world was created. Social distancing does not mean virtual distancing. Zoom, Skype, phones, and FaceTime facilitate connection with both our families of choice and our families of origin. Connecting with other is also an


Setting the standard for senior care. immune booster. Let us sing together, laugh together, spend time with grandchildren and practice virtual bikkur holim, with the frail, and isolated.

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Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav taught that the world is a narrow bridge, and not to fear at all. We must not let fear rule. Fear usually has a decent goal, like stay safe, don’t get sick, do a good job, but fear’s strategies of suffocation, paralysis, and panic often create the opposite. Nachman taught hitbodedut. Once a day, pour out your heart, and then the rest of the day, live life fully. However you see G-d, as nature, the universe, social justice, Shekinah, this is a time to stay connected. Just when we need our deepest strength and perspective, to be in touch with our inner wisdom, fear presents itself and can sever the connection. We get into survival mode. To regain our connection in the face of challenge, let us do those things, to the extent that we can, that nourish our spirit, whether it is dancing in the living room, singing Broadway songs, reading, painting, chatting online with our children, or studying Torah. DO UNFINISHED BUSINESS.

In his 70’s, my father had a heart attack. He called my mother and myself into the CCU and said the last 25 years with us had been the best years of his life, and if he should die, he didn’t want us to mourn. Then he lived another 20 years. By doing his unfinished business, he opened the door to the future, and I got to know my father. Brushes with mortality can be a moment to decide to say the things that we have left unsaid. ZACHOR: REMEMBER

When I was a child, there was a polio epidemic in Montreal. Families left the city and went to ‘the country.’ By the end, 74 percent of people with polio never became ill, 24 percent had a mild-moderate illness, 2 percent were stiff for 10 days, and 1 percent were paralyzed. The epidemic ended, we went home, then there was a vaccine, and now almost no one gets polio. Will we learn the lessons of this experience, of this illness of the world, long after it is gone? Will we remember to reach out to those in need and at the same time, to take care of ourselves? Will we remember that the meaning of life is life itself, and that our health and the health of those we care about, especially our children, is the most precious gift of all? Let us go together, this year, from slavery to freedom, and experience the simple joy of being alive. In these times of uncertainty and not knowing, let us be members of a new group, the Mutual Inspiration Society.

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f you’ve never heard an Arab calling out alter zachen (“old things”) in Yiddish, then you’ve never experienced pre-Passover preparations in Jerusalem. It’s part of the clean-up mania that grips the city in the run-up to the Pesach holiday. I remember the days when an old, wizened guy would traipse around the neighborhood looking to pick up anyone’s old shmattes — today, they drive around in a pick-up truck before Passover and Rosh Hashanah, trolling for anything metallic. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Municipality informs us that: “The Sanitation Department will heighten its activities, double its shifts and add more garbage collection vehicles. Sanitation Department crews are working to clear out waste and garbage dumps discarded by residents in the city neighborhoods as part of the Passover cleaning operation.” Once that’s done, Jerusalemites will be able to ease into the Passover holiday in a spruced-up, cleaned-up city, ready to receive whomever else in the world might feel like dropping in for a visit. Need to stock up on household goods? Pre-Passover is the time to do it, as stores compete to offer rock-bottom prices on dishes and



cutlery. Bank Hapoalim, which like every bank in Israel charges a fee for every single transaction, redeems itself slightly by underwriting free entrance to 45 sites, museums and attractions throughout the country during the intermediate days of Passover. The array of activities on offer in Jerusalem during Passover is truly astounding. On the religious front, Haaretz revealed in a poll that 68 percent of the population answers “no” when asked if they are planning on eating chametz during Passover and 75 percent of Israelis will take part in a seder. Meantime, on Passover, the extent of the dire poverty of hundreds of thousands of Israelis is exposed. The latest figures indicate that roughly 20.5 percent of Israeli families live below the poverty line. Moreover, 24.7 percent of Israel’s residents and 35.9 percent of its children live in impoverished families. Families and the elderly form almost endless lines in every city around the food banks and soup kitchens, which do their best to provide the basics necessary to celebrate the holiday.


In every haredi neighborhood during the week before the holiday, men and boys block the narrow streets with hand trucks piled high with sacks of carrots, potatoes, oranges and cartons of eggs — all courtesy of the Kimcha D’Pischa funds that funnel donations from abroad to the haredi communities, specifically for Passover food. The Israeli Army presses into service some 200 IDF chaplains, including reservists, to commence the massive task of kashering the hundreds of kitchens, mess halls and eating corners used by soldiers all over the country. Street scenes in Israel change every day before Passover, according to what is halachically necessary: In the days before the holiday, yeshiva students wielding blowtorches preside over huge vats of boiling water stationed every few blocks on the street and in the courtyard of every mikvah. The lines to dunk cutlery, Kiddush cups and the like start to grow every day, and, at the last minute, blowtorches are at the ready to cleanse every last gram of chametz from oven racks and stove tops lugged through the streets. No alarm clock needed here; the clanging garbage trucks do the trick as they roll through the neighborhood every morning during the two weeks before Passover to accommodate all the refuse from the furious cleaning going on in every household. Two days before the seder, there’s the annual pick-up of over-sized items and appliances. Dozens of antiquated TVs and old toaster ovens stand forlornly next to the garbage bins, on their way to the dump. The day before Passover, families replace the yeshiva students on the street, using empty lots to burn the remainder of their chametz, gleaned from the previous night’s meticulous search. In vain, the Jerusalem municipality sets up official chametz burning locations and issues strict orders banning open fires in any other areas. Yeah, right! Most flower shops stay open all night for the two days before Passover, working feverishly to complete the orders that will grace the nation’s seder tables. Merchants in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Mea She’arim and Geula generally run out of heavy plastic early in the week before Passover. In a panic, I make an early morning run to the Machane Yehuda market to snap up a few meters of the handy counter-covering material. Observant Jews mark the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot by carrying out some of the laws of mourning — one of these is the prohibition against cutting hair, so good luck if you haven’t scheduled an appointment for a pre-Passover/Omer haircut. You won’t get in the door at most barber and beauty shops. Mailboxes are full of Passover appeals from the myriad of organizations helping the poor celebrate the holiday. Newspapers are replete with articles about selfless Israelis who volunteer by the hundreds in the weeks before the holiday to collect, package and distribute Passover supplies to the needy. The biggest food challenge to Ashkenazi, non-kitniyot (legume) eating Jews is finding cookies, margarine, etc., made without kitniyot, but a few Ashkenazi rabbis are coming out with lenient rulings regarding legumes. Since most of the country is on vacation for the entire week of

Passover, all kinds of entertainment and trips are on offer. Ads appear for everything from the annual Boombamela beach festival, to kids’ activities at the Bloomfield Science Museum, to concerts in Hebron, to explorations at the City of David, and Dead Sea music festivals. Passover with its theme of freedom and exodus always evokes news stories about recent olim. This year, general immigration numbers are up slightly: 29,600 for 2018. Despite rising anti-Semitism in Europe, Jewish Agency figures show that only 2,660 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2018—a drop of 25 percent over the previous year. The largest number of immigrants, as usual, was from Russia and Ukraine: 17,000 in 2018. Only 3,550 arrived from North America. According to Israel’s Brandman Research Institute study, 43 million people hours will be spent nationwide in Israel’s cleaning preparations for Passover this year. How does that break down? Of those cleaning hours, 29 million are done by women and 11 million by men. Paid cleaners make up the remaining 3 million hours, at a cost of NIS 64 million ($15.6 million). Israel’s chief rabbis sell the nation’s chametz to one Hussein Jabar, a Muslim Arab resident of Abu Ghosh. Estimated worth: $150 billion, secured by a down payment of NIS 20,000. Jabar took over the task more than 15 years ago, after the previous buyer, also from Abu Ghosh, was fired when it was discovered his maternal grandmother was Jewish. At the Western Wall, workers perform the twice-yearly ritual (prePassover and pre-Rosh Hashanah) of removing thousands of personal notes from the crevices of the Kotel to bury them on the Mount of Olives. Guess who’s buying matzah? According to Iyad Sharbaji, the manager of Gadaban Supermarket at the entrance to the Galilee Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, his matzah is consumed entirely by local Arabs. Sharbaji told Haaretz that he generally stocks up on matzah for Passover and has to replenish stock before the end of the holiday due to keen demand by locals. It turns out the avid consumption of matzah is not a new trend in Arab towns and villages, whose inhabitants view the traditional Jewish food as nothing more or less than a welcome and refreshing change in the menu. ”It’s not a religious issue, and certainly not a political one,” Sharbaji explains. The Passover theme of freedom and exodus in Israel even extends to criminals. Israel Radio announced that 700 prisoners will get a furlough to spend the holiday with family. According to the Agriculture Ministry, Israel’s fishmongers will sell 1,100 tons of carp, 80 tons of St. Peter’s fish and 300 tons of mullet this Passover season to satisfy the demand for gefilte fish and Moroccan-style chraime. For some reason, it’s become expected practice for companies to give their workers gifts on Passover (and Rosh Hashanah). The Tovanot Market research firm found that some 1.5 million workers in Israel receive gifts from their employers at this time of year. Most generous is the Dead Sea Works, whose workers get a check for NIS 1,780 (about $495), plus an iPad. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM


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& mishagoss Why is this Passover different from other Passovers?


probably don’t need to explain why I decided NOT to hold Pesach in person this April. But I DO need to explain exactly how that strategy has worked out for me. It all began when a certain generation wasn’t familiar with the latest technology. First a rumor circulated amongst my grandparents that I was planning for us to stand in line for dinner. “Like a buffet?” my grandmother asked. “You know buffets ruin my figure, dear. I can’t resist second helpings.” Of course I had to inquire, “Where did you hear this news from, Grandma?” It turns out Great Aunt Sophie told everyone I’d announced, “We’ll be holding our Seder In Line this year,” when I actually said, “Online.” And this was just the beginning! Since I couldn’t go inside their homes to give them individual Internet lessons, I tried to teach them over the phone. Getting them all united in conversation was surprisingly simple because I knew how to initiate a conference call. All my elderly relatives had to do was answer their telephones in the usual manner. Once their landlines (yes, you read that correctly!) were all connected, this is how things went down:

the computer screen for our Sober Seder.

Grandpa Harry: (Fancies himself a “techie”) I call dibs on extra cups of wine for my mouse. Heh heh, don’t worry Ethel, a mouse is not a rodent… it’s what I’ll use to scroll through our haggadah once it’s typed into

Great Uncle Sid: And I’m looking forward to that mute button when those six noisy kids of hers start whining for the Afikomen. Either that, or I’ll click the Escape key.

Me: Cyber Seder. Actually Gramps, we’ll be holding real life paper haggadahs in our hands. It’s gonna be all of us on the screen – so we can interact with one another. Great Aunt Sophie: How exciting! Just like that Willy Wonka movie when the young boy reaches out and grabs an actual chocolate bar straight out of the television set. Only I’ll be serving all of you my matzo ball soup. Me: Not exactly, Auntie. Grandpa Harry: But I was looking forward to computerizing the Haggadah so I could run a program that discovers patterns in the Hebrew letters like that famous Rabbi did with Torah Codes. A bushel of parsley says there’s a secret message about Moses! Grandma Ida: Harry, stop being a big-shot know-it-all and listen to our granddaughter. She may even teach us how to order things from the Amazon Rainforest with free next day delivery.

Great Aunt Deborah: Shhhh Sid, she can hear you! This isn’t a private call. It’s like our old party line telephone days, remember? Great Aunt Sophie: Continue, sweetheart. Explain how delicious my brisket will smell coming from the microphone into their speakers. The others will eventually catch on. Me: I’m not so sure they will, Aunt Sophie. Why don’t we simplify things and instead of eating an actual dinner online, we’ll just focus on ceremony stuff. That’s the most important part, right? Grandpa Harry: Good idea. I’ll edit a picture of a seder plate with my new Photoshop program so it’ll have symbolic foods on it. There’s even a filter to change the horseradish from red to white that I can downtown. Me: Uh, download. But Grandpa, you can hold a tangible seder plate directly in your hands. Okay new idea…just coming to me. Ready folks? We’ll celebrate Passover early. Like right now. On this group phone call. This is it everyone. Ready to sing? 1, 2, 3 … Go! Dai, da-ynu, Dai, da-ynu, Dayenu … Because it is enough. Oy! STEPHANIE D. LEWIS IS ON THE HUFFINGTON POST AND ONCEUPONYOURPRIME.COM WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM




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