The Great Passover Money Throw

April 9 2015

Some Sephardi Jews have a custom of throwing coins and candy to children to mark the conclusion of Passover. Marc Angel recounts his memories of the practice, and explains its significance:

Each of the children was given a paper bag. We waited breathlessly for the men to come home [from synagogue]. . . . And finally the great moment arrived. [There was a knock on the door] and in came my grandfather, father, and uncles, all tossing coins and candy as we children rushed to gather the newfound treasures. Mixed into the coins and candy were blades of grass. It was a beautiful chaos of laughter, singing, and scrambling. . . .

What is the meaning of this custom? It is a re-enactment of the joy the Israelites experienced when they crossed the Red Sea and gained their freedom from the servitude in Egypt. . . . [T]he money tossed to the children reminds us of the gold and silver the Israelites took with them as they left Egypt. The blades of grass recall the reeds at the sea. The candy symbolizes the manna. Just as the Israelites rejoiced and sang at their redemption, so our celebration included ineffable joy.

The closing days of Passover focus on the theme of redemption. . . . We were redeemed in antiquity; we will be redeemed in the future. But what about now? I think the “money throw” at the end of Passover provides an answer. We don’t live in a redeemed world, but we have the power to increase faith, increase joy, increase hope. We have the ability to give our children and grandchildren a spirit of happiness and excitement in their Jewishness. We can remind ourselves of past redemption, and that we ourselves must play a role in maintaining a vibrant, creative, and happy Jewish life until the future redemption.

Read more at Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

More about: Exodus, Jewish holidays, Passover, Redemption, Religion & Holidays, Sephardim

Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy