Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Uh oh.....

We have been excitedly advertising that on Shavuot when it is customary to eat dairy things, we would be ordering cheesecakes from Junior's, the famous cheesecake maker here in Brooklyn. Granted, no one ate cheesecake while wandering between Egypt and the promised land in the dessert...er...desert, but is has become a custom that while one studies Torah the night before Shavuot (as we will be doing), one eats diary cuisine. And any Jew who at the same time wants to appreciate the splendor of God's world would surely gravitate towards cheesecake. And good cheesecake, if one can. P'shita.

Eating dairy emphasizes that Torah is like the milk that keeps infants alive. It also has been suggested that the reason we do this is that before the Torah was given there was no way of knowing the laws of eating meat. Therefore, we eat dairy to commemorate the ancient Israelite's punctiliousness to Jewish law.

Junior's is well known to have some of the greatest cheesecake around, and while their restaurant is not kosher, their mail order cheesecakes have fallen under the hashkacha of the Orthodox Union-- OU. However, see below, and wait to see how this plays out.... (the drama):

The Brooklyn Paper
April 21, 2007

Something not so kosher going on at Junior’s.

The legendary cheesecake purveyor has lost the coveted Orthodox Union seal of approval after a Junior’s foreman baked up a batch of delicious, creamy cheesecakes during the Passover holiday.

Jews are not supposed to work — or have their workers work — on religious holidays as well as the Jewish sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

“The whole thing was a mistake,” Junior’s co-owner Alan Rosen told The Brooklyn Paper. “One of our customers ran out of cheesecake, so our shop foreman made some. I didn’t know about it at the time, and it’s a violation. We know we’re not supposed to bake during Passover, but what can I say?”

A spokesman for the Orthodox Union, one of the nation’s leading kosher-certifying organizations, declined to explain why its rabbis pulled the Junior’s certification, which was announced though an e-mail that gets sent to thousands of kosher followers nationwide.

“Effective April 1st, 2007,” the understated e-mail said, Junior’s cheesecakes “are no longer certified by the Orthodox Union and will no longer bear the OU symbol.”

Rosen promised that Junior’s would regain its kosher certification within days, albeit from “another group” that issues such declarations. The kosher controversy affects only Junior’s mail-order business — the restaurant itself, of course, is not kosher — and Rosen said he had enough cakes on hand to last a few days.

While Rosen downplayed the loss of kosher certification, the Talmudic minds of other experts weren’t so sure.

“I think this is a big deal,” said Rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights. “If you’re a kosher customer of his, you’ll think twice.”

Raskin, of course, is kosher — but he never went near a Junior’s cheesecake, even when it had the OU seal.

He answers, as they say, to a higher authority.

“Even though they were kosher, they didn’t use what we call ‘Jewish milk,’” Raskin said. “To be the highest level of kosher, the milk has to be followed all the way from the cow’s udder to the cake. That’s ‘cholov y’israel.’”

In other words, oy vey.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Guess who this is?

Our executive committee is made up of talented, dedicated, passionate people? But who knew they've always had such good taste in clothes?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

For Those Rainy Days

It looks like rain all day today according to weather.com after 1pm. And so a text, appropriate enough for April. But first credit where credit is due: The Image above comes from www.redmum.blogspot.com. Her pictures are really wonderful, look for the picture of the car with the child and the picture taken in a mirror of a duck ride. She has a great eye.

And now the text:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת תענית דף ז עמוד א

אמר רבי אבהו: גדול יום הגשמים מתחיית המתים, דאילו תחיית המתים לצדיקים, ואילו גשמים - בין לצדיקים בין לרשעים. ופליגא דרב יוסף, דאמר רב יוסף: מתוך שהיא שקולה כתחיית המתים - קבעוה בתחיית המתים. אמר רב יהודה: גדול יום הגשמים כיום שניתנה בו תורה, שנאמר +דברים ל"ב+ יערף כמטר לקחי, ואין לקח אלא תורה, שנאמר +משלי ד'+ כי לקח טוב נתתי לכם תורתי אל תעזבו. רבא אמר: יותר מיום שניתנה בו תורה, שנאמר יערף כמטר לקחי מי נתלה במי - הוי אומר: קטן נתלה בגדול.

Rabbi Abahu said, "Rainy days are greater than the day of the resurrection of the dead because the resurrection of the dead is only for the righteous, whereas rainy days are for everyone." Rav Yosef disagrees and says, "Rainy days are equal to the resurrection of the dead and that is why we pray for rain in the Amidah where we pray for the resurrection of the dead."

Rav Yehudah says, "Greater are rainy days than the day that the Torah was given, as it says (Deut. 30:2) 'My doctrine (lekach)shall drop like the rain' and the word lekach always means Torah as it says in Proverbs, "Behold a good doctrine has been givem to you-- my Torah..." Rava says, "(Rainy days) are greater than the day in which Torah was given as it says, 'My doctrine shall fall like rain.' One says that the lesser (Torah) is compared with the greater (rain)."

Explanation: Rava's explanation in the end is a little confusing. What he means is that because the Torah is being compared with rain, it must be that rain is greater. Think something along the lines of: Milwaukee's Art Museum will be like The Art Institute of Chicago means that the Art Institute is the greater thing. Or: Dwayne Wade is like Michael Jordan-- choosing Michael Jordan as the point of comparison suggests that he is better. Or: Nicole Kraus writes like Saul Bellow. Or: This Kosher Pizza tastes like non-Kosher Pizza.

Things to do on a rainy day--

Imagine: Nicole Kraus spending Shavuot with Dwayne Wade at the Art Museum in Milwaukee eating Kosher Pizza on Shavuot.
Imagine: Saul Bellow passing a rainy day with Michael Jordan at the Art Institute in Chicago eating non-Kosher Pizza.