How the COVID-19 Baking Craze and Jewish Rituals Surrounding Bread Cast Light on the Meaning of Passover

March 16 2021

One of the odd side effects of the pandemic has been a burst of enthusiasm for at-home breadmaking, as Americans sought to fill their newfound spare time, and perhaps avoid trips to the grocery store. For many Orthodox Jews, Sara Wolkenfeld reports, the trend took on an additional significance as the ritual removal of a piece dough—a commemoration of the tithe mentioned in Numbers 15:20, known as “taking challah”—became an opportunity to offer a prayer for a relative or friend suffering from the coronavirus. As Passover approaches, and with it the commandment to refrain from the consumption of leaven, Wolkenfeld reflects on the sacred significance of bread:

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Read more at First Things

More about: Coronavirus, Food, Judaism, Passover

Why a Government Victory in Southwestern Syria Is Bad News for Israel

Sept. 17 2021

Last week, Russia negotiated a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebel forces in the city of Daraa, where the initial protests that sparked the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began. The agreement ended a 75-day assault on the city, located near the country’s southwestern border, by Russian, Iranian, and Syrian forces. Jonathan Spyer explains the significance of these events:

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Golan Heights, Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war