The Ukrainian Bakery That Provides Matzah for the World Is a Symbol of Judaism’s Resilience

Although the Ukrainian city of Dnipro (formerly Dnepropetrovsk and Ekaterinoslav) came under bombardment early in the war, and is only a little over 50 miles from the frontlines, its matzah bakery is still functioning, and will provide unleavened bread for American Jews as well as locals. Meir Soloveichik notes that the very existence of this institution highlights “the miracle that is the rebirth of religious fortitude, and Jewish faith, in a land where once all such faith was forbidden.” He adds:

Anyone familiar with history must be surprised by the fact that today the Jewish community in Ukraine bakes matzah on behalf of much of the Jewish world. I remember the shock in discovering this myself when shopping before Passover several years ago. . . . Since then, I have often gone out of my way to purchase this matzah of Ukraine for Passover. To me, the historical poetry was profound. Matzah is the food of freedom, eaten as a reminder of the Israelites hurriedly preparing bread for their journey without waiting for it to rise, as liberty suddenly descended and they hurriedly departed Egypt.

But matzah embodies something more. The reading of the Haggadah at the seder begins by holding aloft the purported bread of freedom and announcing (in Aramaic) ha laḥma anya—this is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. We are remembering the first Passover celebration, when unleavened bread was eaten with the paschal lamb by ancient Israelites in Egypt, during the plague of the firstborn. Freedom would not arrive until the morning; death stalked outside, and the Israelites were still enslaved. Nevertheless, the Israelites that fateful night were still sustained by their bond to God and to one other; and suddenly, by morning, they were baking matzah in freedom.

As war threatened these very same Jews, another reflection of Jewish resilience was made manifest in their continuing to produce the bread of faith. And as the crisis worsened, a usually fractured Jewish world came together to support and sustain the Ukrainian Jewish community, to support those staying in Ukraine, to welcome those fleeing, and to help settle those who have arrived in Israel.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Passover, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship