Kosher bacon, harrowing horas, and a record-breaking Shabbat

Dinner plans?

If you're not busy, maybe you can stop by for Shabbat dinner. And bring a friend. Or several. The more the merrier.

That's pretty much the attitude of the folks organizing the World's Largest Shabbat Dinner, set for June 13 at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv Namal, a major event venue overlooking the Mediterranean. There will be challah, wine, a full catered meal and, of course, an official Guinness World Records adjudicator who is flying in from London, just to make sure everything is completely kosher, world-record wise.

"This is no gimmick," the organizers, White City Shabbat, insist. "Our epic Shabbat dinner will be a true show of Jewish Unity and community spirit … attended by individuals, families, groups coming from many different types of communities, all under the banner of Am Yisrael presided over by our Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau."

The event really is open to everyone, and you or your entire group really can attend. Just RSVP at There is a suggested donation "of 50nis (New Israeli Shekels), or 80nis, or 18nis, or 100nis, or FREE."

But if you plan to go, there's none of this "fashionably late" stuff. Everyone must be in his or her seat on time at 6:30, the invite stresses, "so you can personally be counted as officially part of this beautiful act of CHUTZPAH."

WARNING: Horas may be hazardous to your health

The New York Post  and Tablet Magazine report that 69-year-old Michael Douglas - yes, that Michael Douglas - suffered an apparent "hora-related injury" while celebrating at his son Dylan's bar mitzvah.

"I'm hurting," the limping actor told a reporter several days later. "I don't know whether it's my groin or a hernia. I got carried away at my son's bar mitzvah this weekend. You know they put you up in the chairs over the top - I think something happened there."

Bacon. Now in the kosher aisle.

Iconic Ritz Crackers has introduced its latest variety: Bacon-flavored Ritz. And, like other Ritz products, it's certified kosher. O.U.

Tablet Magazine reports that, through the magic of chemistry, the bacon-flavored snacks contain no bacon, nor any other trayfe. So the O.U. says they're OK.

Ritz is hardly the first to offer such a counter-intuitive option to the kosher market. Remember Bac-os bacon bits? Kosher. And there are plenty of others. Jewcy's Elissa Goldstein provided a roundup.

Why limit your market?

Just to be clear, there is absolutely no suggestion that Manischewitz is working on bacon-flavored matzo. Quite the contrary.

Rather than searching for ways to make trayfe products kosher, the new management at the 126-year-old firm is looking to make "kosher" the hot new label among consumers who aren't concerned about religious dietary laws.

Just before Passover, Manischewitz was taken over by a subsidiary of Bain Capital. (You may remember them as the private equity firm Mitt Romney used to run.)

"It's a pretty powerful certification to be kosher, because it means you are holding your product to a very high standard," newly appointed CEO Mark Weinsten told the New York Times. "Why is that not applicable to people who don't keep kosher?" noted that "if the kosher designation can be pitched as a byword for quality and care, it could garner more mainstream appeal, especially among health-conscious shoppers." Several years ago, Manischewitz started rebranding its matzo as "a low fat, additive-free cracker instead of a religious product."

Going forward, broths and macaroons could have the broadest appeal to mainstream consumers, a company spokesperson told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Builders and sons

There are plenty of cases of children following in the footsteps of their parents, becoming performers or artists in their own right, but artist Mosh Kashi (link is to a video in Hebrew) recently recalled how he felt the same sense of preserving a family tradition in 2005 when one of his paintings - Tree without Roots - was hung on the wall for exhibition at the Israel Museum. Things had come full circle.

Was his father a famous artist?

No, but Mosh could say he was nevertheless a chip off the old block: The elder Kashi had spent 35 years as a manual laborer working for Solel Boneh, the construction corporation that had built the Israel Museum. When his son's work was exhibited, the elder Kashi returned to the Israel Museum for the first time, in order to see his son's handiwork hanging on one of the very walls he himself had erected forty years earlier.


Reflections from your editor, Cindy Sher, on people living their Jewish lives each day. ... Read More

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