The Soldiers’ Seders of World War II

In the midst of fighting the Nazis and the Japanese, Jews serving in the U.S. armed forces around the world organized Passover celebrations and meals. Marjorie Ingall explores an archival collection of programs, menus, and specially-produced haggadahs:

Some of these seder programs were informal, handwritten, mimeographed affairs riddled with spelling errors (“HorseRaddish”); some were beautifully printed on heavy, textured paper. Most were similar in content: a cover indicating the place and time—with the year of both the Gregorian (1944 or 1945) and Hebrew (5704 or 5705) calendar, and the time (always in military time, sometimes at the elegantly late 2200 hours). There were lists of the order of events (seder literally means “order”) and the dishes to be served, almost always concluding in “Afikomon.”

Many programs proudly told us who did what and who cooked what: at a seder in Accra in what later became Ghana, the Four Questions were recited in Hebrew by Pvt. Joseph L. Joldoff and in English by Pfc. Dorothy Steinberg—apparently the youngest soldiers present. A 1945 program from New Delhi, featuring “Bombay Matzos” and “Beef Strokanoff” credited the food to the glamorous-sounding “Madame Luba Ruperti.” . . .

The food at these seders was usually a mix of [traditional] East European Jewish and fancy French-ish; French meant cosmopolitan in those days. There was a lot of “compote.” A few menus showed the influence of the cultures the soldiers were stationed in: the seder at the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi featured “Beckti Farci a la Juife” (presumably that refers to bhekti, the Bengali word for barramundi; “a la Juife” probably refers to a preparation [resembling gefilte fish]).

Soldiers in Hawaii had fresh pineapple for dessert. Kashrut was a secondary concern: “For those observing the Dietary laws Tuna fish will be served in place of chicken,” a menu from Rome noted. One could see evidence of thrift: in New Delhi, you could have gefilte fish or matzah balls, but not both. And military comportment was expected; a menu from “liberated Italy” warned in small print: “Guests will kindly observe the regulation number of four cups of wine at the seder.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewish History, Jews in the military, Religion & Holidays, Seder, U.S. Army, World War II

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy