On the other hand

March 22, 2020 by Michael Kuttner
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An eerie silence prevails as Israelis hunker down and prepare to ride out an uncertain future.

Appointments for dentists, hairdressers and beauty parlours are cancelled. Bank branches are closed although ATM’s are still dispensing cash but the problem is that cash transactions are now a rarity. Public transport is severely curtailed and the roads resemble Yom Kippur when hardly a vehicle moves. Takeaways are still open and home deliveries can be made to your doorstep. Post offices are operating and mainly seem to be distributing AMAZON parcels ordered well before this virus outbreak.

Thank goodness for SKYPE and WHATSAPP plus other assorted social media communication devices which at least enable most people to keep in touch and conduct financial transactions or obtain information. Places of worship are shuttered as are pilgrimage sites.

This year as scattered families celebrate lone Seders the symbolism of the bread of affliction (matzah) and bitter herbs will be especially relevant.

Does this mean that there is no positive news to report? Not at all.


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 Children hospitalized in Tel Aviv were thrilled to receive a visit from Spiderman and his friends on Purim. These selfless and daring volunteers brought smiles and cheer to sick patients and for a short while at least alleviated their pain and suffering.




As we recite the plagues this year at our Seder(s) many celebrants will no doubt add or at least think about the latest plague ravaging the world at the moment.

Another plague associated with the Exodus was the swarms of locusts which afflicted Egypt. Amazingly just in time for this Festival there is a prediction of a return of these devastating creatures.

A plague of locusts the likes of which have been unseen for over 30 years is about to hit Africa and the Middle East.  Locust Watch, a division of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which gives emergency assistance to countries facing desert locust invasions, constantly monitors the status of potential infestations. According to the organization’s most recent forecast report, there are new “extremely alarming” swarms forming in the Horn of Africa.

While one locust may not seem a major fresser (eater, Yiddish), the swarms can grow to millions of individuals, “with the capacity to consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.

It appears that the hardest-hit countries will include Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, and Sudan, the last of which will likely be affected later this summer.

Not all regions of the Middle East will be affected, however. Despite the proximity to Passover, according to the useful forecast maps on the site it appears that the swarms will not hit Israel or the country’s crops. 

If that indeed transpires we can truly proclaim DAYENU.

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