7th & 8th Days of Pesach


(Comments from 2016, edited) Yes, it is still Passover (Pesach).  It’s an 8-day holiday, 7 if you’re Reform or Israel.  We are still eating matzah and getting crumbs all over.  And there’s stuff left to do, besides starting to pack up the Pesach stuff.  For example, on the 2nd night, we began to count the Omer, which we will do daily for a total of 49 days, until the holiday of Shavuot.  This counting, known in Hebrew as Sefirot HaOmer, is done in commemoration of the Temple offerings of an “omer” of grain as commanded in Leviticus 23:15–16, which was in the 2nd day Torah reading.  To help you keep track, there are online Omer counters such as The Homer Calendar (which my husband uses – the site also has a lot on “all things Jewish and Simpsons”) as well as apps like Ultimate Omer 2 – The Sefira app you can count on.

Yes, there are more Torah readings.  Actually, as well as the 7th & 8th day holidays, the 4 intermediate days (chol hamoed, this year, 4/22-25) have their own Torah readings, which, since chol hamoed is almost over, you can read about here.

Here are the 7th and 8th day Torah and haftarah readings.  They concern redemption (Hebrews at the Sea, David from Saul, and everyone in the Messianic age) and the holidays:

April 26, 7th day Pesach Exodus 13:17-15:26 The splitting of the Re(e)d Sea, the Song at the Sea. Num. 28:19-25 The Passover sacrifice.  Same as first two days, minus verses 16-18. II Samuel 22:1-51 David’s song of thanks for rescue from Saul et al.  Also the Haftarah for Ha’azinu in the fall.  Contains Psalm 18.
April 27, 8th day Pesach Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 Tithes. Sabbatical year. Levites. Slaves. Consecration of first born. Holidays: Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot. Num. 28:19-25 Same as 7thday Isaiah 10:32 – 12:6  Messianic vision, which we’ve been leading up to since Shabbat Shekalim. Imagery of animals lying down together and led by a small child.

Besides the Song at the Sea we read on the 7th day, it is customary to read the Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim, aka Song of Solomon,) on the intermediate Sabbath of Passover.  There isn’t one this year, so we could read it on the 8th day, but services are already long then, so we generally skip it.  That’s a pity, since it’s chanted to a lovely melody which evokes spring and perfume and young love:

‘For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.’


‘Turtle’ is Jacobean for turtledove.

There are also many, many musical settings of parts of the Song of Songs in various languages. A few examples of popular Hebrew songs are Dodi Li (verses 2:16, 3:6, 4:9, 4:16, music by Nira Chen), Kol Dodi (verse 2.8, folk melody), and El Ginat Egoz (6:11; 7:12-13: 4:16, Sarah Levi Tanai). Pablo Casals composed a lovely setting in Latin, Nigra Sum (1:4-5; 2:10b-12a). There are dozens and dozens of settings from the 12th to 21st centuries, especially the 16th, listed at http://www.grabinski-online.de/div/hoheslied.html.  Maybe I’ll take a look at some medieval or Renaissance ones someday.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Chag sameach and Shabbat shalom,



tph red-sea-joke



(7 of) 15 things you always wanted to know about matzah | ISRAEL21c

By ISRAEL21c Staff  APRIL 5, 2017, 7:50 AM

1.Matza, matzah, matzo, matzoh … a food with many spellings thanks to its Hebrew origins and no direct English translation. Matzah is also called “poor bread” and “bread of affliction” in the Torah.

5.Each square of regular machine-made matzah packs 111 calories. There are 46 calories in one matzah ball.

8.1838: the year Frenchman Isaac Singer invented the first matzah dough-rolling machine. Rabbis weren’t all that keen on this innovation, but the idea was eventually accepted.

9.1888: the year Lithuanian immigrant Dov Behr opened the first matzah factory in Cincinnati, Ohio. Behr* took on the name Manischewitz and named his factory the B. Manischewitz Company.

*Actually, his original name was Dov Behr Abramson. According to his geni.com entry, “he purchased the passport of a dead man named Manischewitz to gain passage to America in 1888.” IGP

11.2008: the year competitive-eating champion Joey Chestnut ate 78 matzo balls in eight minutes, according to the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

12.2010: the year Chef Jon Wirtis of Shlomo and Vito’s New York Delicatessen in Tucson, Arizona, created the world’s largest matzah ball (kneidlin Yiddish). The 426-pound (193-kg) monstrosity – comprising more than 1,000 eggs, 125 pounds (57 kg) of matzah meal (finely ground matzah), 25 pounds (11 kg) of schmaltz (fat) and 20 pounds (9 kg) of potato starch – and was created for Tucson Jewish Food Festival.

13.2011: the year Manischewitz set a world record for largest matzah. In honor of the opening of its new headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, Manischewitz baked a 25-foot-1-inch (7.5-meter) long and 41.5-inch (a little over a meter) wide piece of matzah that weighed nearly 25 pounds (11 kilograms). That’s about 336 regular matzahs in one! Or over 37,000 calories…



A Simpsons Exodus (Last sent out in 2013.)

This is an excerpt of a “Simpsons” episode, “Simpsons Bible Stories,” written by Tim Long, Larry Doyle, and Matt Selman that aired on April 4, 1999, a version of the Exodus with Milhouse as Moses and Principal Skinner as Pharaoh.  At this point, Moses/Milhouse and Lisa have been imprisoned in a pyramid by Chief Wiggum.

 Milhouse and Lisa climb the spikes, like a ladder, until they reach the top of the pyramid.  They remove the capstone and slide down the side, blowing a rams’ horn.

“Our time has come!” Milhouse shouts.  “Follow me to freedom!”

Meanwhile, Bart is chiseling “I will not deface,” as a rebus, into the blackboard.  He hears the commotion and runs outside.

Wiggum runs into Skinner’s chamber to tell him the children of Israel are escaping.  Skinner is unconcerned until he is reminded that this would leave him without a labor force.

 Meanwhile, the children have reached the shore of the Red Sea.

Lisa:           Oh, we’ll never be able to swim that far.
[Skinner and his army of chariots appear on the horizon]

Bart:           Oy, caramba!

Milhouse: [throws down his staff] Screw this; I’m converting.  [to the sky] Save us, o mighty Ra!

Lisa:           Hey, cut that out!  I have an idea.
[shortly later, as clouds gather, the children are lined up at the latrines]
Okay, Moses — lead your people.

Milhouse:   Flush!
[the children do so, in unison.  The Red Sea is soon drained]
It’s a miracle!  I performed a miracle!  I’m a genius!

Lisa exhorts everyone to cross.  Skinner sees what has happened and commands his troops into the “temporarily dry sea.”  As soon as they are part of the way across, the water returns, swamping them all.  The men surface, and begin horsing around like kids in a pool.  Lou complains that Eddie is splashing him, but Wiggum just tells him to splash Eddie back.
Safely on the other side of the sea, the children cheer.

Milhouse:   Well, Lisa, we’re out of Egypt.  So, what’s next for the Israelites?  Land of milk and honey?

Lisa: [consulting a scroll] Hmm, well, actually it looks like we’re in for forty years of wandering the desert.

Milhouse: Forty years?  But after that, it’s clear sailing for the Jews, right?

Lisa: [nervously] Uh-huh-hum, more or less — hey, is that manna?  [the children cheer and run off into the distance]



Counting the Omer on the streets of San Francisco (excerpts)


On the night of May 3, next to the roaring traffic on busy 19th Avenue in San Francisco, a dozen people gathered to tell a few jokes, sing songs and count the Omer.

Starting a few minutes late — the group was on “Jewish standard time” one of the participants joked — those assembled held a Havdallah service and then proceeded to count the 19th day of the Omer.

Counting the Omer is an injunction to count the number of each day out loud during the 49 days between the second day of Passover and Shavuot.

Coincidentally, San Francisco has 49 avenues, which led to the birth of the Omer Project last year after Yeashore Community maggid Jeff Haas and Reuben Politi put two and two together — or, more accurately, 49 and 49.

It’s an effort to get people to come together and publicly participate in the counting ritual, while also injecting a post-denominational spirit into the proceedings — meaning, according to the organizers, that they included a plurality of traditions.

“The Omer period connects between the move from slavery to freedom and the receiving of the Torah,” Rabbi Danny Gottlieb of San Francisco Congregation Beth Israel Judea explained to J. last year.

In addition to the ritual activities, some members of the group enjoyed telling jokes, which took the event a little bit in the direction of the popular Web series “Old Jews Telling Jokes.”

There was a sing-along component, too. Among other songs, organizers Haas and Politi penned original lyrics about the Omer, set to George Gershwin’s famous “Summertime” from the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess.”



A Choristers’ Guide To Keeping Conductors In Line (excerpts)

The following rules are intended as guides to the development of habits which will promote the proper type of relationship between singer and conductor.

3.Bury your head in the music just before cues.

5.Loudly clear your throat during pauses (tenors are trained to do this from birth). Quiet instrumental interludes are a good chance to blow your nose.

6.Long after a passage has gone by, ask the conductor if your C# was in tune. This is especially effective if you had no C# or were not singing at the time.

8.Wait until well into a rehearsal before letting the conductor know that you don’t have the music.

9.Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasionally.

10.When possible, sing your part either an octave above or below what is written. This is excellent ear-training for the conductor. If he hears the pitch, deny it vehemently and claim that it must have been the combination tone.

11.Tell the conductor, “I can’t find the beat.” Conductors are always sensitive about their “stick technique” so challenge it frequently.

13.Ask the conductor if he has listened to the von Karajan recording of the piece. Imply that he could learn a thing or two from it. Also good: ask, “Is this the first time you’ve conducted this piece?”




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