Of Passover and Cookie Dough

A rabbi weighs in


My post yesterday arguing that cookie dough ought to be considered kosher for Passover—in fact, that eating cookie dough, the perfect example of unbaked bread, should be encouraged Seder eating—was not, as commenter Elaine cleverly suggested, an April Fool’s joke. However, it was deliberately provocative, and it wasn’t fully serious (but not fully un-serious, either!).

To clear the air, I called up Rabbi Charles M. Feinberg of Adas Israel, the Conservative synagogue in Washington, D.C., which is the chosen congregation of both the Israeli Embassy and my family. Rabbi Feinberg confirmed that, indeed, normal cookie dough, even eaten as cookie dough, is not Pesadik. “Because the dough is sitting together, there’s a minimal amount of leavening,” he explained. This would probably apply even if you mixed the flour and water but then ate it—without baking it—in under 18 minutes. “The rabbis defined it in this way,” he added, “that’s part of what Judaism became, part of the old tradition. It’s in the Talmud, and that’s the basis for most of our observance.” Well, phooey.

Earlier: It Oughta Be Kosher!

Today on Tablet

Breaking Passover in style, the ‘linkage’ problem, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Lara Rabinovitch brings the good word of Mimouna, the yeasty end-of-Passover festival celebrated by Moroccan Jews, complete with a recipe for yummy-sounding Mufleta. Senior Writer Allison Hoffman talks to the Christian Washington, D.C., journalist who holds a Seder for (mostly) his co-religionists. David P. Goldman (a.k.a. “Spengler”) argues that U.S. neoconservatives, particularly Jewish ones, are both overly obsessed with and misinterpreting General David Petraeus’s observation that U.S. military missions in the Middle East and Central Asia are affected by the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From a cruel haftorah depicting God’s harsh punishment against one who touched the Ark, Liel Leibovitz draws a relatively simple lesson: “Life is unfair.” The Scroll has made peace with life’s unfairness but wonders why it can’t be unfair in its favor more often.

Israel’s Semi-Secret Espionage Case

Journalist held under gag order

Say nothing.(Soulbounce)

Tablet Magazine is based in New York City, and not in Israel. Which is why we can write that Israel is charging a journalist with espionage and treason related to her allegedly photocopying classified documents while she was a solider and then leaking them to Haaretz. JTA’s Ron Kampeas reports that the case is under a gag order in Israel.

Anat Kam was a journalist for a small paper that was until recently owned by Haaretz. Authorities are thought to believe that she leaked documents that revealed, according to a 2008 Haaretz report, that the IDF planned to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling that barred the assassination of terrorists who could be safely arrested. (Oddly, or perhaps not, the military censor did permit the publication of the story.)

The rub is that gag order (which Haaretz is appealing). Why does it exist? If someone over there knows, well, they’re not saying. There has been no Israeli reporting on the case—including the harsh 14-year sentence being sought—and therefore little overall reporting on it.

Instead, via blogger Richard Silverstein (one of the few reporters who is following the case), we have Maariv’s take on the situation: “Due to a gag order we cannot tell you what we know. Due to laziness, apathy and blind faith in the defense establishment we know nothing at all.”

Israel Gags News of Soldier Turned Journalist Under Arrest [JTA]

Daybreak: Burnt Cheese in Gaza

Plus informal U.S.-Hamas talks, Palestine next year, and more in the news

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.(Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images)

• The Israeli Air Force launched several missiles into the Gaza Strip today, destroying munitions sites and a cheese factory. Only light casualties were reported. [Reuters/NYT]

• Several ex-diplomats with somewhat close ties to the Obama Administration have met with Hamas on unofficial bases. Some see this as evidence of a willingness to engage. [WSJ]

• The Israeli government thought up new steps it could take to “build confidence” to satisfy the Americans following the crisis over East Jerusalem. [JPost]

• Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad estimated Palestinian independence will come next year. [Haaretz]

• President Obama chatted up Chinese leader Hu Jintao for an hour on the phone to get him to come around on Iran sanctions. Hu still made no public commitments. [Ynet]

Sundown: Kerry Praises Syria, Assad

Plus Brooklyn matzah brei, the Yiddish-gefilte link, and more


• After meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, reports that the country “is an essential player for bringing peace and stability to the region.” [Haaretz]

• Really interesting revelation: How your ancestors prepared their gefilte fish probably correlated with which dialect of Yiddish they spoke. [Forward]

• France and Israel’s “break-up”: a model for the United States and Israel’s? [NYT]

• Mile End, Brooklyn’s Montreal-style deli, is serving up matzo brei. [Twitter]

• A consideration of Raul Hilberg, whose histories of the Holocaust inspired Hannah Arendt (much to his chagrin). [The Nation]

• (Jewish) singer Amy Winehouse’s single “Rehab” … in Yiddish:

The Poodle and the Great Dane

An old Jew tells a joke


On most days, starting today, The Scroll is going to run a video from the folks at Old Jews Telling Jokes. If you’re unfamiliar with this delightful essay, just know that it has the most accurate name in the history of the Internet.

Today: Steve “Shecky” Platt tells the one about the poodle and the Great Dane.

It Oughta Be Kosher!

This Passover, help yourself to some cookie dough

Cookie dough (presumably not Pesadik).(Flickr)

Look, this isn’t going to be one of those rants about corn syrup. Every person who’s ever had to keep kosher for Passover has at some point wondered why things with corn syrup in them—which is to say, things made with corn (which, if you believe Michael Pollan, is pretty much everything)—are not Pesadik. Well, because corn has been known to go into the making of bread, and corn used to be tilled in the same soil as wheat, which also made bread, and bread, and bread-like things, should not be eaten during Passover. Because what you are supposed to be doing is re-enacting—indeed, you are re-living—the experience of those Jews who could not wait for their dough to rise and so ate matzoh while fleeing from slavery, etc., etc. If you want to throw corn into the prohibited pile along with bread and pizza and the like, then OK. Anything to get Coca-Cola to produce Coke with real sugar once a year.

Cookie dough—normal cookie dough, not special, kosher-for-Passover cookie dough—is another matter, though. It is of course chametz, since it invariably contains flour or wheat or something used to make cookies, and said materials invariably were made wet for over the 18-minute limit. To be honest, most cookie dough, particularly of the store-bought variety, probably contains corn syrup, too. And don’t tell me about corn syrup—I know all about corn syrup.

But, c’mon! Think this through! Cookie dough should be kosher for Passover. It is the very definition of what ought to be kosher for Passover: would-be bread that specifically hasn’t been baked. It is the precise sort of thing you would grab for a nosh if you didn’t have enough time to prepare properly—because, maybe, oh, I dunno, you were fleeing Pharaoh! Eating cookie dough on Passover? It shouldn’t just be countenanced—it should be encouraged! We should be slathering it onto the afikomen for dessert!

This is all by way of saying I had some cookie dough ice cream last night. And you should know I made a sacrifice in doing so: I specifically and deliberately did not eat cookies-and-cream ice cream—which I prefer!—because, after all, it’s Passover, and once we were slaves, and now we are free.

A Permanent Remembrance

Holocaust survivors sit for stunning portraits

The entrance to Auschwitz.(Wikimedia Commons)

A Polish photographer has taken highly stylized, low-lit portraits of Holocaust survivors—while there are still Holocaust survivors around to photograph. The New York Times’s Lens blog has 10 and an accompanying post.

“What I find striking about the Nazi camps statistics is their impersonality, the namelessness of the victims,” the photographer, Maciek Nabrdalik, tells the Times. “This series is an attempt to give them faces and to breathe individuality and humanity into the detached historical accounts.”

Check these out.

One Last Sitting for Holocaust Survivors [Lens]

Why Is This Tour Different From All Others?

Pittsburgh and Cleveland with Girls in Trouble


Alicia Jo Rabins is filing periodic dispatches for The Scroll while Girls in Trouble, her four-piece band that plays original art-pop songs about the women of Torah, tours the Midwest. The first installment is here.

“Do not oppress the stranger; you understand the experience of a stranger, since you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Touring makes you a stranger. At home you have your routines. You know where the best coffee is, the quickest way to get from one place to the next, and whom to call if you need help. On the road, you’re forced to ask for help and rely on people for the most basic things—directions, restaurant recommendations, a place to sleep.

Often the people who invite you to stay with them are family or fellow musicians, who have experience being strangers in the land of Egypt. Our first show, in Pittsburgh, was great: old friends and new fans (an entire family, from grandma to kids, came to see us after reading about us, which I thought was pretty awesome). After the show, we went to a house of generous fellow musicians, staying up late listening to records and talking about pedals. And football—after all, it’s Pittsburgh. Apparently one person’s band had to perform during an important game, and they put a TV onstage (facing the band, not the audience!) so they could watch it while they played. (more…)

Salita Calls Out Khan to Tablet

Boxer blames angry crowd for KO last year

Salita last November.(Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

While catching a glimpse of Omri Casspi last week in East Rutherford, New Jersey, after a Nets game, I also got the chance to chat briefly with Dmitriy Salita. The Ukrainian-born Brooklynite, who fights at the junior welterweight (140 pounds) level and in his spare time studies to be an Orthodox rabbi, was last seen getting crushed by world champion Amir Khan. Khan faces Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden in May. But Salita told me he hopes to be fighting in May, too, and hopes to be fighting Khan thereafter.

“A lot of things went into that fight that affected the results,” he told me of his December bout in England, which lasted only 76 seconds before Khan achieved his sensational KO. “My people weren’t allowed to be involved, I didn’t get special security for myself. It was an incredibly violent crowd, a whole bunch of angry people just waiting for me.”

Salita added: “And my close family was there. So, when I got into the ring, and saw my close family surrounded by people with blood in their eyes, it became a different kind of fight.”

“Ideally,” he concluded, “we’ll fight again.” Khan (KHAAAAAAAN!): Take care of Malignaggi, and Salita will be ready for you. May we suggest you guys fight in Brooklyn next time?

Earlier: It’s Not Easy Being Casspi
Orthodox Boxer Crushed in Title Bout

Related: Barney Ross [Nextbook Press]

Today on Tablet

The AIPAC leaks case, the actual Pulitzer, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Mideast columnist Lee Smith catches up with Steve Rosen, the ousted AIPAC policy director who was the victim; while Rosen was accused of leaking sensitive U.S. information to the Israeli Embassy, Smith argues he was the victim of “the criminalization of policy disputes.” Book critic Adam Kirsch reviews the latest biographer of Jewish-immigrant-turned-publishing-tycoon Joseph Pulitzer. Steve Stern’s graphic novel The Frozen Rabbi starts back up. And The Scroll is unfrozen!

‘Ugh, God, the Jews Are Back.’

This week on ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’

Patti and millionaire bachelor Justin Levine.(Bravo TV)

Every Wednesday (except this week!), Senior Writer Allison Hoffman recaps the previous night’s episode of the glory that is Millionaire Matchmaker. For previous Matchmaker coverage, click here.

When The Scroll embarked on the project of recapping every week’s Millionaire Matchmaker, it wasn’t just because the lady herself, Patti Stanger, is a bona fide yenta who reliably dispenses wisdom in the Yiddish she learned from her grandmother in New Jersey. Since the show mostly involves rich young men in Los Angeles, it regularly features rich Jewish bachelors, from that Israeli real-estate developer who wanted a “spinner”—it’s a bedroom move, folks—to Jason Davis, the oil heir who introduced his date, and all of us, to his pet monkey (not a euphemism!). Lately we’ve had a bit of a dry run on that front, but this week, appropriately enough, brings deliverance from that desert into the land of milk and outrage. Or, as Patti groans: “Ugh, God, the Jews are back.”

And how! Ladies, his name is Justin Levine, and he’s “four-zero.” (Or “30 plus 10.”) He comes from Toronto, where his family owns lots of real estate, and where he spends part of the year shooting the movies he underwrites with their money. What kinds of movies, you ask? Well, movies like Boy Toy, and Natural Born Komics, and Wing Man. Pauly Shore appears to have directed Natural Born Komics. Levine has $10 million that his dad gave him and a condo somewhere in a neighborhood decidedly not the Hollywood Hills. But poor Justin can’t meet any appropriate women at his own Oscar party. What is he looking for? A girl with 34-23-33 measurements. “Are you fucking high?” Patti exclaims. “You want tits on a stick, basically!” “No!” Justin says, using his best “but, MO-OM” voice. “I want a nice girl who I like.”

Lucky for Justin, the other guy in the episode is way, way more repulsive. (more…)

Daybreak: China Hops Onboard

Violence in Gaza and Berlin, and more in the news

A Gazan and a stun grenade, Tuesday.(NYT)

• All five veto-bearing U.N. Security Council members—yes, Russia and China too!—agreed to substantively engage on new Iran sanctions. This is fairly big news. [Laura Rozen]

• Over the first part of Passover, there were skirmishes along the Gaza border, resulting in several Palestinian injuries. [NYT]

• As even proximity talks stall, Israel in theory continues to contemplate a four-month East Jerusalem construction freeze in exchange for direct negotiations. [JPost]

• Around a dozen Hezbollah members will appear before a U.N. probe investigating the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. [WSJ]

• Two separate, violent anti-Semitic incidents on the Berlin subway system have alarmed Jewish leaders there. [World Jewish Congress/Vos Iz Neias?]

• Mormons have Seders, too? What a world. [Ynet]

Early Sundown: Freeze This!

Plus Jesus and ‘The Simpsons,’ and more

Homer and Bart at the Western Wall(Fox.)

Barring big breaking news, The Scroll will be dark until Thursday morning. Chag Sameach!

• Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Cabinet rejected U.S. calls to cease building in East Jerusalem. [NYT]

• Despite what you’ve always been told, Jesus’s Last Supper was (probably) not a Seder. [Slate]

• Palace intrigue! Reported internal disputation over Israel within the Obama Administration. [Laura Rozen]

• Thomas L. Friedman on the necessity—not preferability—of peace in the Mideast. [NYT]

• Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan advocates against sanctions on Iran. [Haaretz]

• The Simpsons are going to Israel! (Actually, they went, last night; Sacha Baron Cohen voiced the Israeli tour guide.)

A Seder Musical Spectacular

Watch ‘Everything’s Coming Up Moses’


Need something to spice up tonight’s Seder? May we suggest a viewing of select numbers from Everything’s Coming Up Moses, the Passover-themed musical (loosely inspired by Gypsy) written by Rachel Shukert and sponsored by Tablet Magazine? Or better yet: Howabout a sing-a-long! (Select lyrics here.)

The title song!


“You Gotta Make A Living”!

“Some Hebrews”!


If you still can’t get enough—Lord knows we can’t—even more clips are here.

Everything’s Coming Up Moses [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Everything Came Up Moses

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