Shabbat Shalom: From the President 04.22.16

The Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of Conservative Rabbis, recently adopted ateshuvah (ruling) permitting Ashkenazi Jews to eat kitniyot (e.g., rice, corn, and legumes) during the upcoming Pesach holiday. Rabbi Amy Levin, the distinguished former rabbi of Temple Torat Yisrael and former head of the Rhode Island Board of Rabbis, was a co-drafter of this teshuvah. In a recent, web-based article from MarketWatch entitled: “Passover is about to get easier and less expensive for many Jews: When personal finance influences religious practice,” Rabbi Levin explains that such pronouncement shall now enable Conservative Ashkenazi Jews to be on the same Passover dietary regime as Sephardic Jews and accommodate those who maintain a daily vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

Traditional guy that I am, I’m not quite sure I am psychologically ready to start eating rice pudding or black bean soup during the next eight days. And as Rabbi Levin indicated, “years and years of tradition will make it difficult to abandon…. such customs and suddenly start eating burrito bowls during the holiday.”
More importantly to me, however, the Rabbinical Assembly’s ruling will provide great comfort to those Jewish community members who simply cannot afford the high cost of Kosher meats and other Pesach proteins. Not surprisingly, one of the most salient features of our Rhode Island Jewish community’s Living on the Edge Study revealed that we Jews are not economically different from anyone else. It is not surprising that 20% of our community members live in virtual poverty, and another 30% are economically vulnerable. If the choice comes down to paying the utility bills and preparing lentils instead of purchasing a holiday capon and flanken, this teshuvah is visionary, laudable, and liberating. And isn’t liberation indeed what our Passover holiday is all about?
As such, I strongly encourage you to make a holiday contribution to our Living on the Edge Campaign so that no one shall go hungry during this holiday period and beyond. What a mitzvah you will be performing. I thank each of you, and wish you the sweetest and most wonderful Passover imaginable, whether you choose to dine on kitniyot or not.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Pesach Sameach,
Jeffrey K. Savit
President & CEO

Shabbat Shalom: From the President 04.22.16

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