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The electronic voice of the Australian Jewish Community



Letters from Jewish Australia - No.58

AN AUSTRALIAN PESACH

by Geraldine Jones


April 2nd, 1998

As we prepare to celebrate the eight days of Pesach (commencing this year on Friday 10th April) it is interesting to reflect on the ways in which this festival connects us to the Jewish world, past and present, and the little differences which can occur because of geographic location and time zones.

Like many Australians I am an English immigrant who arrived here after the Second World War. I remember vividly from childhood the assorted Haggadot (primers outlining the order of the service - Seder) used in our home. These had a variety of translations including English, Spanish and German. The latter exposed me to Gothic print long before I started learning this language at school but most importantly the sight of other languages impressed upon me my place as one Jew connected to other Jews in many other lands. Amazingly the pictures were so similar, in some cases identical. So much so that I would happily use one of these alien books even if I couldn't understand them - in my childhood there were no Children's Haggadot to keep the little ones entranced.

Nowadays we have the "Interactive Haggadah" on CD Rom in five languages which helps to highlight our Jewish internationality. This year for the first time we will be using a Russian Haggadah in our home. The emigration of so many Jews from the former USSR has given us the wonderful opportunity to share festivals with people who have been denied their heritage for so very long.

Australia is a nation of immigrants and the creator of The Australian Haggadah which was featured in our very first "Letter from Jewish Australia" dated 1st March 1993 also came from Russia. This Haggadah combines the topography of Australia with the dream of Jerusalem. With an outstretched hand it connects us both to Israel and the land of the Australian aboriginal. It graphically depicts Jewish recognition of the special dimension that links indigenous people with the land.

The aboriginals have their dreamtime and we similarly, at the Seder, not only relate the Exodus from Egypt but express our yearning and love for Israel. For generations, in the lead up to Pesach, Jewish children have practised the recitation of the four questions which lead in to our discussion of freedom and our dreams for the future.

This year I learned that there are Jewish children in the Northern Hemisphere who raise butterflies which are timed to emerge from their cocoons around the time of the first Seder. This lovely idea probably wouldn't work here as it is Autumn (even though it is very hot and has been for months). Nevertheless some of our children will also be occupied with creating butterflies. They will be cutting out and coloring paper butterflies to be sent to the USA where they will be used in a display of remembrance of the more than 1.2 million Jewish children who were killed in the Shoah.

The joy of Pesach has always been tinged with past sorrows and a kosher l'pesach (one cleaned and readied according to the Jewish law) household involves a lot of hard work and certain formalities.

One of these is the selling of the Chametz (food not allowed to be eaten durig the 8 days of Pesach). It is customary for householders to sell any of this food and crockery still in their possession to a non-Jew. This sale is usually handled by a Rabbi on behalf of his congregants. Nowadays it is particularly easy to fulfill this obligation via the internet.

However, just as it is too late in the year for real butterflies, our different time zone means that Pesach starts earlier here! It is important that the Rabbi to whom you are selling lives in a time zone which is the same or ahead of you so that when he sells your chametz, just before 11 local time on Erev Pesach, you are covered. Which makes Australia a very good choice.

So lock your Chametz away and complete the appended form and email it no later than Thursday April 9, 1998 to Rabbi Benzion Milecki < benzion@zip.com.au> or go to http://www.zip.com.au/~benzion directly or from the JOIN home page.

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DELEGATION OF POWER FOR SALE OF CHAMETZ

I, the undersigned, fully empower and permit Rabbi Benzion Milecki to act in my place and stead, and on my behalf to sell all Chametz possessed by me, knowingly or unknowingly as defined by the Torah and Rabbinic Law (e.g. Chametz, possible Chametz, and all kinds of Chametz mixtures). Also Chametz that tends to harden and adhere to inside surfaces of pans, pots, or cooking utensils, the utensils themselves, and all kinds of live animals and pets that have been eating Chametz and mixtures thereof. He is also empowered to lease all places wherein the Chametz owned by me may be found, particularly at the the address/es listed below, and elsewhere.

Rabbi Milecki has full right to appoint any agent or substitute in his stead and said substitute shall have full right to sell and lease as provided herein. He also has the full power and right to act as he deems fit and proper in accordance with all the details of the Bill of Sale used in the transaction to sell all my Chametz, Chametz mixtures, etc., as provided herein. This power is in conformity will all Torah, Rabbinic and Civil laws.

Date ............

Name ..............

Address/es where Chametz is to be located ...... ...... ......

Email address: --------------------------------------------------------------------

Wishing you all a very happy and kosher l'Pesach.

Geraldine Jones

[For discussion of this Letter and other topics of Jewish/Australian interest please subscribe and mail to JOIN-TALK@shamash.org]


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