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Rabbi's Blog: Seder, Simcha, Sadness, Sefira

04/04/2023 10:44:53 AM



Dear OZ family,


The Seder immediately bids us to put our money where our mouths are. When we spend a night glorifying in the pleasures of going from slavery to freedom, we begin the story-telling with invitations for those who are hungry and for those in need. This invitation is made in Aramaic, the spoken language at the time the Haggadah was beginning to take shape, to assure that the invitations would reach everyone. That is the best way to enjoy our prosperity and to extend it to others.


In the spirit of extending freedom,  below I have attached information regarding adding our names to a demand for the freedom of the Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, who is being held prisoner in Russia.  We must assure theat Evan’s plight is not forgotten, especially in this season of the festival of our freedom. I have also attached information about receiving reminders for counting the Omer, as we make our way from freedom to Mattan Torah.


Please join me in wishing Mazel Tov to Aviva & Matthew Engel on the birth, this morning of a baby boy. It’s hard to imagine a Bris without bagels, but we wish the Engel’s that they take their new son to the Bris of Avraham Avinu in a good time.


It is with sadness that I mention the passing of Malca Jerushalmy, the mother of Ariel. There will be a service for her at Weinstein-Garlick-Kirschenbaum chapels at 1153 Coney Island Ave. at 12 noon today. I sent Shiva information yesterday. In addition, we extend condolences to Jeremy Peyser on the passing of his mother, Edna Peyser. There will be a graveside ceremony at Beth David Cemetery in Elmont NY, at 2pm.  Shiva information will follow shortly.  May the mourners be comforted with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.


Chag Kasher V’sameach

Rabbi Allen Schwartz  



Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635



On March 29, our Wall Street Journal colleague, Evan Gershkovich, was arrested by Russia’s security services on false charges and faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.


Evan, 31, the American son of Soviet-born Jewish exiles who settled in New Jersey, will be spending this Passover locked up in Moscow notorious Lefortovo prison, where countless rabbis and refuseniks, including Natan Sharansky, were incarcerated under Soviet rule.


A member of Moscow’s Jewish community, Evan is being denied all contact with the outside world, or even a matzo. 


As you celebrate freedom and redemption this Passover, we are asking Jews around the world to set a place for Evan at their table, and to keep him in your hearts and prayers. Please raise your voice to help us demand freedom for Evan. 


We would greatly appreciate it if you could circulate the attached image on your social media accounts and speak from the pulpit or at your seder this week about Evan’s plight.


Please also post photos of your Seder table with a place setting for Evan to your social media.  


Please use the hashtags #FreeEvan and #IStandWithEvan.


You can read more about Evan’s life and his commitment to his work here:




Elena Cherney

WSJ Chief News Editor


Shayndi Raice

Middle East and North Africa Deputy Bureau Chief



בע"ה, in addition to the

nightly e-mail Sefiras Haomer Alert,

we will once again be posting the 

Sefiras HaOmer on WhatsApp

at tzeis/sundown.



If you joined a

WhatsApp group last year

and didn't leave at the end of Sefira,

then you are still in last years group

and there no need to rejoin.


To join

click one of the links below

or kindly forward to friends and family

who may appreciate the

daily Sefira reminder.


חג כשר ושמח והצלחה רבה

לז"נ החבר אשר בן החבר מאיר/ארי-ה איסר בן צבי הירש ז"ל

Fri, June 21 2024 15 Sivan 5784