Ideas for Chol Hamoed Trips


This article was published in 2009, so before you leave the house check to make sure the information about the place you are going is the same.

Everyone agrees that one of the best things about Yom Tov is spending time with your family, including grandparents, cousins, and married children. Although most mothers would agree that if everyone else is happy, they will be happy too, it can be hard to think of activities that will please everyone, from toddlers to seniors – and especially teens!

One safe bet is a park. Being outside on a (hopefully) balmy April day is enjoyment enough for the adults. And for the children, many of the parks I reviewed feature special attractions. So look over this list of destinations. They may not be earthshakingly exciting, but when the sun is shining and you have good company, almost any activity is fun.*

Read More:Ideas for Chol Hamoed Trips

What Freedom Were We Given on Passover?

seder table

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky is the founder of the Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center outside Philadelphia and the Rosh Kollel of the Bensalem Community Kollel. For more information please visit:

Passover is the holiday of freedom. In the prayers of the holiday we call Passover zman chairusainu (the time of our freedom). In the maariv (evening) service that we say every night, we mention that Hashem took us out of Egypt at this time lchairus olam – for eternal freedom. This coming Monday night we will gather with family and friends, as we mark the most celebrated Jewish occasion of the year – the seder.  Yet, as thinking people, we have to ask ourselves, what does this message of freedom mean to me?  Certainly there are people in this world who are slaves, who are denied physical freedom – but there were Jews who celebrated a seder in the most challenging of circumstances – when they certainly had no freedom. What of those heroes and heroines who recited the Haggadah in the Nazi concentration camps? Were they celebrating freedom there?

Read More:What Freedom Were We Given on Passover?

Dress Up Your Pesach Meals with Homemade Salad Dressings

salad dressing

I know you have a zillion things to do before Yom Tov, so how dare I write an article suggesting you make your own salad dressings?!

You’ll be happy to learn that making salad dressings is, in fact, a pretty quick and simple task. It doesn’t have to be daunting at all. Most can be made with just oil, vinegar, and dried spices, shaken vigorously in a glass or plastic bottle or container.

A blogger, who calls herself the Skinny Chef, writes that preparing delicious homemade salad dressings is one of the easiest tasks that beginning cooks can quickly master. Besides, think about the control you can have over the quality of your ingredients. (You knew this was coming, given my perspective as a holistic nutritionist.) As you may have noticed, many readymade Pesach products – such as mayonnaise, salad dressing, and sauces – contain cottonseed oil. This cheap oil is used to replace the kitnyios-based oil usually used during the year. But if you make your own, you can use extra virgin olive or walnut oil, as well as other quality ingredients, like apple cider vinegar (preferably organic, although that may be hard to find on Pesach), dried herbs, and even fresh vegetables or fruits. Your homemade pesachdik dressings will have no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, no added sugar, and no cottonseed oil.

Read More:Dress Up Your Pesach Meals with Homemade Salad Dressings

Pesach Memories

Pesach is a central theme of Judaism all around the world and the most beloved of Jewish holidays for Jewish families across the spectrum. As I spoke to relatives, friends, and members of the community from all over the world, I was amazed to hear how the same Yom Tov was celebrated in ways that were at once so different and so very much the same. Of course, some of the memories are all the more poignant because the places where the memories took place no longer exist as Jewish communities.

Read More:Pesach Memories

Whats New in Healthcare from Different Sources 7

Read More:Whats New in Healthcare from Different Sources 7

And You Think YOU Have A Lot to Do Before Pesach?


 As I sit in my terrarium-like cubicle at Star-K Kosher Certification, trying to think how to best describe working here before Pesach, I can’t help but think of a beehive. Although the first Seder is just three weeks from tonight, and a lot of you are just now seriously cracking down on preparing for the “P-word” (with the exception of one fellow who came to sell us his chometz on February 18, because he was heading for Israel and staying through Pesach!), here at work, we have been preparing for Pesach 5774/2014 since a week after Pesach 5773/2013. And we will continue to help our Kashrus Hotline callers, emailers, and texters to the last minute possible, even past candle lighting (but before shkia, sunset) on the first Seder night.

Read More:And You Think YOU Have A Lot to Do Before Pesach?

Labeling Others – and Ourselves!


I stumbled on the idea for this article while talking to a shadchan about a young man. The first question the shadchan asked me was, “Is he modern?” I was taken aback, because although I had described this young man in some detail, I had never thought to give him a label. Was he modern? Did modern mean a certain hashkafa and approach to Judaism? Or did it mean lackadaisical observance? I really did not know how to answer the shadchan, which is what brought me to explore the whole topic.

Read More:Labeling Others – and Ourselves!

The Leningrad Hijacking

The Leningrad Hijacking

Neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night could keep the crowds away from Shomrei Emunah Sunday night. A large, diverse crowd came out to hear famed Russian refusenik R’ Yosef Mendelovich talk about his experiences fighting for Soviet Jews behind the iron curtain as part of his tour which included speeches at Beis Yaakov and Torah Academy as well.

Read More:The Leningrad Hijacking

The Dangers of Hookah


Hookah smoking is a relatively new trend that has been gaining in popularity amongst teenagers and young adults. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the dangers of smoking hookah. This is mainly due to the relatively new introduction of hookah’s into the US, minimal research, and lack of proper education on the matter. Cigarettes on the other hand, have been around a lot longer and many people are well aware of the negative effects it can have on one’s health. Additionally, there is a plethora of literature and scientific articles on cigarettes, the dangers, and the negative health effects. When it comes to cigarette smoking, people can name off many of the adverse health effects, such as lung cancer, heart disease and many others maladies. It is my hope that by the end of this article more people will be educated on what hookahs are, how they work, and the harmful effects they can have on one’s health. Hopefully by doing so, people will become as educated on hookahs as they currently are about cigarettes.

Read More:The Dangers of Hookah

Maid for a Day


Nu, you may ask, what type of title is “Maid for a Day”? A good question. There once was a television program called “Queen for a Day.” (Does anyone remember?) It made a tsimmis (big deal) of one lucky lady from the TV audience who was chosen to be queen and receive her special wish – anything from a special bed for a handicapped child to a housekeeper to replace her while she recovered from surgery. She got many other prizes, too. The audience ah-ed and oo-ed as the gifts were presented, making all the vibelach (wives) jealous. When she received a free trip to the Bahamas, the olam went wild with envy.

Read More:Maid for a Day