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March 23, 2018

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 23, 2018 PAGE 15A By Uriel Heilman NEWYORK (JTA)--It costs more per pound than filet mignon. It might be burnt or taste like cardboard. It's so delicate it often breaks in the box, rendering it unfit for Passover ritual use. Yet every year, Jews from Brooklyn to Bnei Brak line up to fork over their hard-earned money to buy boxes and boxes of the stuff This isn't your regular box of Streit's matzah. We're talking, of course, about handmade shmura matzah: the artisanal, disc-shaped matzahs considered extra special because the ingredi- ents are "guarded" against leavening, or chametz, not just from the time the wheat is ground into flour, but from before the wheat is even har- vested. "Shmura" is Hebrew for guarded. The extra level of scru- tiny-and the labor-intensive process required to make handcrafted matzah--is largely what accounts for its high price: anywhere from $20 to $60 for a single pound. "The amount of hours of labor going into this between me and my staff is incompa- rable," said Yisroel Bass, who runs a farm in Goshen, New York, that produces organi- cally grown shmura matzah ($34 per pound for regular shmura, $37 for spelt). "Renting out a bakery costs a lot of money--the space and the staff. Equipment breaks every year. Every farm has its expenses, and organic farms end up having more overhead. We can't buy the synthetic fertilizer; we have manure," Bass told JTA. "And God forbid I have a bad year and the rabbi comes and says the wheat is no good, I just spent a whole lot of time and money on a product nobody wants. The cost has to reflect that." Despite its price--and, some say, its taste--there's a thriving market for hand- made shmura matzah (there's also machine-made shmura, which is cheaper and usually square but more strictly scru- tinized than regular matzah). Many observant Jews won't use anything other than handmade shmura matzah on their seder table. Some won't eat non-shmura anytime dur- ing Passover. The same Jews who light expensive olive oil menorahs on Hanukkah rather than wax candles or buy premium etrogs for Sukkot will lay out extra cash before Passover to buy handmade shmura matzah. (The practice of going above and beyond is known as "hid- dur mitzvah," beautifying the commandment.) "For the consumer, it is an opportunity to purchase the only sacred food that we have today in our faith," said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Sholom synagogue in Washington, D.C. "It is a bargain. Buy less brisket and more shmura matzah." Mitchell Weitzman, a law- yer from Baltimore, says shmura matzah has senti- mental value. "There is just a sense of authenticity about having shmura matzah on the table," Weitzman said. "It's a feeling more than anything else-- certainly more than serving up Passover-style Fruit Loops the next morning." Others say they like the taste and eat it year round, stocking up right after Pass- over when the price drops dramatically owing to reduced demand. "I keep a box of shmura matzah in the trunk of my car," said Tali Aronsky, a public relations doyenne who lives in Israel. "Keeps crispy in all weather and great in a pinch." Religious Jews consider shmura matzah baked after midday on the day before Passover--known as "matzot mizvah"--as especially meri- torious to eat, and the matzah is priced accordingly. At the Satmar Bakery in the Wil- liamsburg section of Brook- Uriel Heilman Every shmura matzah is inspected for quality and adherence to kosher standards before it is boxed. lyn, a pound of the Passover eve-baked stuff retails for $60. The line of customers at the Rutledge Street store usually snakes around the block. The Satmar Bakery em- ploys a number of stringen- cies rare even in the world of shmura matzah. It harvests its wheat in Arizona, where the dry climate helps guard against accidental leaven- ing (moisture precipitates leavening). Matzah farmers in the Northeast typically harvest their wheat crop in May or June--around the Shavuot holiday (also called Hag Habi- kurim, which means Festival of the First Fruits). The wheat is plucked after the kernels start to harden but before they sprout new shoots. Kosher supervisors monitor the grain even as it's growing to make sure the wheat isn't sprouting. From the time it is picked until being milled months later, the wheat must be guarded and stored in a climate-controlled environ- ment. Too moist, it could become chametz. Too dry, it will fail to bake properly. At the Yiddish Farm in upstate New York, Bass says he uses fans and computer monitor- ing to bring the moisture level down to the desired 11-12 percent level. After the wheat is milled into flour--also under close supervision--the baking process may begin. By Emily Burack (JTA)--After a gunman took the lives of 17 students and staff at their high school in Parkland, Florida, students there launched a national campaign to promote gun control. They called for a major protest in Washington, D.C on March 24, and are encouraging similar protests and student walkouts across the country. And they took a name for their campaign, #Nev- erAgain, that has long been linked to Holocaust com- memoration. Parkland junior Cameron Kasky is credited with coin- ing the hashtag. A Twit- ter account for the move- ment, NeverAgainMSD, is described as "For survivors of the Stoneman Douglas Shooting, by survivors of the Stoneman Douglas Shoot- ing." Some supporters of the students' efforts are put off by their use of Never Again. Lily Herman, writing in Refinery29, said "it's very uncomfortable to watch a term you've used to talk about your family and people's own heritage and history be taken away overnight." Malka Goldberg, a digital communications special- ist in Maryland, tweeted, "When I saw they're using #NeverAgain for the cam- paign it bothered me, b/c many Jews strongly [as- sociate] that phrase w/the Holocaust specifically For a second it felt like cultural appropriation, but I doubt the kids knew this or did it intentionally." Hasia Diner, a professor of American Jewish history at New York University, is un- fazed by the students' use of the phrase. While some may object to the phrase Never Again being reappropriated for gun control, it "does not mean that reaction is ap- propriate or reasonable," she told JTA. While some have traced the phrase to the Hebrew poet Isaac Lambdan's 1926 poem "Masada" ("Never shall Masada fall again!"), its current use is more directly tied to the aftermath of the Holocaust. The first usage of Never Again is murky, but most likely began in postwar Israel. The phrase was used in secular kibbutzim there in the late 1940s; itwas used in a Swedish documentary on the Holocaust in 1961. But the phrase gained currency in English thanks in large part to Meir Kahane, the militant rabbi who pop- ularized it in America when he created the Jewish De- fense League in 1968 and used it as a title of a 1972 book-length manifesto. As the head of the American Jewish Committee, Sholom Comay said after Kahane,s assassination in November 1990, "Despite our con- siderable differences, Meir Kahane must always be remembered for the slogan Never Again, which for so many became the battle cry of post-Holocaust Jewry." For Kahane, Never Again was an implicitly violent call to arms and a rebuke of passivity and inactivity. The shame surrounding the al- leged passivity of the Jews in the face of their destruction became a cornerstone of the JDL. As Kahane said, "the motto Never Again does not mean that 'it' [a holocaust] will never happen again. That would be nonsense. It means that if if happens again, it won't happen in the same way. Last time, the Jews behaved like sheep." Kahane used Never Again to justify acts of terror in the name of fighting anti- Semitism. In the anthem of the Jewish Defense League, members recited, "To our slaughtered brethren and lonely widows: Never again will our people's blood be shed by water, Never again will such things be heard in Judea." Later, however, Kahane's violent call for action was adapted by American Jewish establishment groups and Holocaust commemoration institutions as a call for peace, tolerance and heed- ing the warning signs of genocide. These days, when the phrase is used to invoke the Holocaust, it can be either particular or universal. Is- raeli Prime Minister Benja- min Netanyahu tends toward the particular when he uses it to speak about the need for a strong Jewish state in the wake of the Holocaust. "I promise, as head of the Jewish state, that never again will we allow the hand of evil to sever the life of our people and our state," he said in a speech at the site of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp marking Inter- national Holocaust Memorial Day in 2010. But Netanyahu has also used the phrase in its uni- versal sense of preventing all genocides. After visiting a memorial to the victims of the Rwanda genocide in 2010, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, wrote in the guestbook, "We are deeply moved by the memorial to the victims of one history's greatest crimes--and reminded of the haunting similarities to the genocide of our own people. Never again." Then-President Barack Obama also used the phrase in its universal sense in mark- ing International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2011. "We are reminded to re- main ever-vigilant against the possibility of genocide, and to ensure that Never Again is not just a phrase but a principled cause," he said in a statement. "And we resolve to stand up against prejudice, stereotyping, and violence--including the scourge of anti-Semitism-- around the globe." That's similar to how the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum uses the phrase. In choosing the name Never Again as the theme of its 2013 Days of Remembrance, its used the term as a call to study the genocide of the Jews in order to respond to the "warning signs" of genocides happening anywhere. And Elie Wiesel, the Ho- locaust survivor and author who came to be associated with the phrase, also used it in the universal sense. "'Never again' becomes more than a slogan: It's a prayer, a promise, a vow never again the glorification of base, ugly, dark violence," the Nobel laureate wrote in 2012. Never Again is a phrase that keeps on evolving. Itwas used in protests against the Muslim ban and in support of refugees, in remembrance of Japanese internment during World War II and recalling the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. And now the phrase is taking on yet another life: in the fight for gun control in America. Shaul Magid, a professor of Jewish studies at Indiana University who is presently a visiting scholar at the Center for Jewish History in New York, told JTA, "For [Kahane], Never Again was not 'this will not happen again because we will have a country' but 'we Jews will never be complacent like we were during the war.' That is, for Kahane, Never Again was a call to militancy as the only act of prevention. In Parkland it is a call for gun control. In a way, a call for anti-militancy." Digital&OffsetPH.'nting ~ ~ i~,"I" Brochures&Booklets Direct Mail Services i ~ Forms & Letterheads Envelopes Business Cards 205 North Street Longwood, FL 32750 Bring in this ad and receive 18% Discount From Mardi. Ron. Ben Shader & Kimberly & Steve