A Haggadah for Seders Near and Far

“Our Family Haggadah” is designed with children in mind.


By Florence Fabricant

Here’s a lively Haggadah that’s kid friendly and easy on the budget, making it reasonable to distribute multiple copies at home or to send to others to participate in a remote Seder. It’s the fourth and improved edition of the book filled with children’s drawings. It suggests (and explains) an orange on the Seder plate (but it’s not so up-to-date that it includes a remote Seder, as dictated by the 11th plague, Covid-19.). It has all the songs, easily followed and presented with guitar chords.

“Our Family Haggadah” by Spring Asher, $12, ourfamilyhaggadah.com.

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‘The help is really useless’: Albertans frustrated by overwhelmed isolation benefit program

As of Monday afternoon, 29,000 Albertans have successfully applied for the province’s isolation support benefit, meant to tide people over until federal financial aid kicks in — but many others say they have been unable to get through.

John Michael Burke has been trying to apply online for the past six days.

“Then I click submit, it says the site’s been shut down, it’s at capacity and that’s all it’s been saying for days,” he said.

He’s tried calling as well, but can’t get through.

“It’s just frustrating. Very, very frustrating,” Burke said.

“The government should have known to set this up properly ahead of time, because they knew a lot of people were going to be applying for this.”

Burke said he feels fortunate he’ll be able to pay his bills next month, but he worries for those who cannot.

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“I can see some major issues coming up here on the 1st of April, because nobody can seem to get through.”

A statement from Tricia Velthuizen, press secretary to the minister of Service Alberta, said “The demand for emergency isolation supports remains extremely high and we apologize for the snags in the system which are leading to some delays.

“Service Alberta staff continue to work non-stop to address the technical issues that Albertans are encountering and part of that includes temporarily taking the system offline on an ongoing basis.”

The province also confirmed the program will continue until federal financial assistance is in place.

That’s not good enough for Burke.

“The help is really useless until then because you can’t get through to do anything,” he said.

The novel coronavirus, and the economic fallout associated with it, also came at a time when Albertans were already struggling.

“With the COVID crisis and the oil price and everything like that, people are starting to panic now about where they are in terms of their job situation,” explained MNP insolvency trustee, Zaki Alam.

MNP’s Consumer Debt Index survey found that at the start of March, before COVID-19 arrived in the province, 58 per cent of Albertans already felt they were within $200 of being unable to cover their debts each month.

Alam called the numbers staggering — noting Albertans were worse off than respondents in other provinces.

He said as an expert, his phone has been busy with stressed callers, unsure of what to do.

His advice? Do not go deeper into debt on credit cards or with payday loans — but rather take stock of your financial position and contact your pre-existing lenders.

“Reach out to the people you’re supposed to be paying — the landlord, the mortgage company, the credit card company — see if they will work with you. Most, under these circumstances, will work with individuals,” Alam said.

He also recommends making a household budget and calling a licensed insolvency trustee for advice.

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Thames Valley District School Board offering computers to students learning at home

The Thames Valley District School Board is offering computers to children who do not have access to one to support learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to make sure that all Thames Valley students can continue to learn and thrive during this extraordinary time,” said Director of Education Mark Fisher.

He added the board is also exploring ways to provide printed resources to students who may not have reliable internet access.

Those that want to access one of the devices can fill out an online form or leave a message on their school’s voicemail by noon Thursday.

All Ontario public schools were initially closed for two weeks after March break until April 6 in response to the pandemic.

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The TVDSB expects more details on how much longer schools will be closed to come later this week.

Last week, the Ministry of Education launched an online learning portal to help prevent students from falling behind.

The board also said the Ministry of Education is expected to announce soon how teachers will be engaged with students in remote learning opportunities while schools are closed.

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New York lockdown: Is New York on lockdown? Should I travel to New York?

New York is the state of origin for thousands of coronavirus cases in the United States. Countries and states around the globe are implementing stringent measures to curb the spread of the deadly disease such as national lockdowns and school closures. As it stands, more than a third of the world’s population is under some form of restriction, but is New York on lockdown and can you travel there right now?

On Monday, US President Donald Trump revealed coronavirus deaths in the US are expected to peak in the next two weeks.

President Trump’s top scientific adviser warned the outbreak could kill up to 200,000 Americans.

The US leader announced he was extending the 15-day period of social distancing in the USA, which was due to expire on Monday, until April 30.

In a White House briefing, Mr Trump said his remarks last week which said the US economy would be running again by Easter were “aspirational”.

Mr Trump said: “The modelling estimates that the peak in the death rate is likely to hit in two weeks.

“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end.

“Therefore we’ll be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread.”

READ MORE

  • New York Governor snaps after being ignored on coronavirus advice

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases in the world, surpassing the figures for China where the outbreak first began.

More than 155,000 cases have been reported in the US, 66,000 of which have been confirmed in New York.

The United States, which was relatively slow in getting its testing programme underway, has now significantly ramped this up across the country.

The country has also shut down venues where large numbers of people congregate, such as schools and educational institutes.

Of the United States’ 156,602 cases, there have been 2,880 deaths.

In New York, there have been a total of 66,497, making it the most infected state, reporting 50,000 more cases than the second most infected state of New Jersey.

New York has seen 1,218 deaths, more than 40 percent of the total number of deaths across the country.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is holding daily news conferences amid the coronavirus crisis.

The governor noted more than 9,000 people are currently in hospital suffering from COVID-19.

He said: “What’s happening in New York is not an anomaly.”

Mr Cuomo added New York’s situation is a “canary in the coal mine” for other states in the country.

He added New York will share lessons about this virus which will prove instructive for other states.

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Mr Cuomo emphasised his previous statewide order to stay at home, calling it a mandate, not a recommendation.

He said: “If you leave the house, you are exposing yourself to danger.

“If you leave the house you are exposing others to danger.

“I know staying at home can be boring or oppressive but it’s better than the alternative.”

He added: “No American is immune to this virus.

“I don’t care if you live in Kansas. I don’t care if you live in Texas.”

Is New York in lockdown?

New York citizens have been told to stay at home and all non-essential businesses have closed.

The US President appears to have changed his mind about the possibility of imposing a quarantine on New York.

He wrote on Twitter: “On the recommendation of the White House coronavirus task force, and upon consultation with the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I have asked the CDC to issue a strong travel advisory, to be administered by the governors, in consultation with the federal government.

“ A quarantine will not be necessary.”

The tweet came hours after he told reporters a quarantine was wanted in New York by some people as it was a “hot spot”.

Should you travel to New York?

As of March 16, it is impossible for many British citizens to enter the USA if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran or China within the previous 14 days.

US citizens and permanent residents of the USA, certain specified close family members and certain other limited categories of visa holders are exempt and still able to enter the USA.

But those permitted entry may be asked to self-isolate for up to 14 days after their arrival.

British nationals will also be unable to transit the USA on an ESTA visa waiver if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran or China within the previous 14 days.

Currently, Britons in the USA are allowed to leave and are advised to make travel arrangements at their earliest convenience.

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Coronavirus: Guelph No Frills employee tests positive for COVID-19

An employee at Domenic’s No Frills in Guelph, Ont., has tested positive for COVID-19, according to parent company Loblaws Companies Limited.

The store on Harvard Road was closed on Monday for a thorough cleaning and is expected to reopen on Tuesday, a spokesperson confirmed in an email.

The employee’s last shift was on March 18 and is currently self-isolating.

Loblaws said they are working closely with Public Health and have taken a number of steps to minimize risks, including increased sanitization protocols and enforcing social distancing practices in the store.

Any employees who had contact with the infected individual are now also self-isolating at home.

Loblaws said they have introduced a pay protection program “to ensure no employees have to choose between their health and their job.”

The news comes after Longo’s reported an employee at their Guelph location on Clair Road tested positive for COVID-19.

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The Best Matzo? It’s Homemade

This version may not be kosher for Passover, but it’s delicate, airy and quick to make.


By Melissa Clark

Of all the delights of the Seder table — the tender brisket, the golden chicken soup flecked with dill, the wine-drenched charoset rich with apples — commercial, kosher-for-Passover matzo falls pretty low on the list.

Made from only flour and water, the result is hard and bland — perfect as a base for matzo brei or a Hillel sandwich, but not so delicious for snacking on its own.

Homemade matzo is something else entirely. Delicate and airy, and often spiked with a little salt and olive oil, it has potato chip appeal, but it’s much faster and easier to make.

The first time I whipped up a batch, I was surprised at how quick the process was. But it makes sense: After all, according to Jewish tradition, the Israelites mixed and baked their matzo in under 18 minutes before their exodus into the desert. How complicated could the recipe be?

Stirred together with a wooden spoon in one bowl, it’s about as simple as baking gets. The hardest part was rolling the pieces of dough into rounds, like the handmade shmurah matzo I’ve had at many a Seder. But once I let go of that circular ideal, the process went much more quickly.

For this recipe, I added a little whole-wheat flour to the dough, which gives the matzo a gentle earthiness. I also sprinkled the tops with flaky sea salt, but I could imagine cracked black pepper and other spices as excellent seasonings, too. Just be sure to prick the dough all over with a fork before baking, otherwise the matzo will puff rather than crisp.

It’s important to note that as tasty as it is, this recipe isn’t kosher for Passover, because Jewish law forbids any ingredients other than flour and water to be used. However, even if you left out the salt and oil, it still wouldn’t necessarily meet all the exacting kosher criteria.

“It’s nearly impossible to create Passover matzo at home that you can use for the Seder,” said Rabbi Motti Seligson of Chabad, “but making it can be educational and fun, especially for children.”

Luckily, unlike toilet paper and hand sanitizer, kosher-for-Passover matzo is in good supply and should not be hard to find, though delivery might take extra time, he said.

Still, as the holiday approaches, making your own can be a delicious and satisfying pursuit that’s also inherently hopeful.

“Matzo is a symbol of deliverance,” Rabbi Seligson said. And that’s something we can all celebrate right about now.

Recipe: Easy Matzo

And to Drink …

When I think about matzo, I think of matzo brei, a simple concoction of matzo, eggs, butter, salt and pepper that my mother would make year-round. She would brook no deviations from her method, which was savory, not sweet. I didn’t realize it as a child, but like so many sautéed and fried things, matzo brei goes beautifully with sparkling wine. Champagne or its facsimiles would be wonderful, naturally, but so would myriad other choices, whether the crémants made all over France, good cava or sekt, or the many variations of pétillant naturel now coming from just about every wine-producing region. Even a moderately sweet sparkler, like those from Bugey in eastern France, would be delicious. This recipe is reminiscent of my mom’s. Just don’t make it sweet. ERIC ASIMOV

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Coronavirus hits rich and poor unequally in Latin America – The Denver Post

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — From Mexico City to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Santiago, Chile, the coronavirus is taking root in the world’s most unequal region, where many of Latin America’s first cases arrived with members of the elite returning from vacations or work trips to Europe and the United States.

Many of the wealthy are already recovering, but experts warn that the virus could kill scores of the poorest people, who must work every day to feed their families, live in unsanitary conditions and lack proper medical care. Some countries are making payments to informal workers — maids, street sellers and others who have been told to stay home to reduce the spread of the virus, but the effort is patchwork and doesn’t apply to everyone who needs help.

“I stay home, I will lose all my goods. I have no way to save them,” said Marie-Ange Bouzi, who sells tomatoes and onions on the street of Haiti’s capital. “I am not going to spend money fighting corona. God is going to protect me.”

Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, reported its first two cases of the virus on March 20. One was imported by one of its most successful artists, an R&B singer who had just returned from France, according to the director of health in Port-au-Prince.

Singer Roody Roodboy, who’s real name is Roody Pétuel Dauphin, quarantined himself when he got back to avoid infecting others and sent his entourage to be tested, manager Narcisse Fievre said. He said the singer had received death threats from people who accuse him of bringing the disease to Haiti, although there is no evidence Dauphin had infected anyone else.

For hundreds of thousands of Haitians who earn a few dollars a day selling goods on the street, quarantine like Dauphin’s would mean near-starvation.

‘’People are not going stay home. How are they going to eat?” Bouzi said. “Haiti isn’t structured for that.’’

The Haitian government has cut banking and government office hours, closed schools and broadcast radio messages asking people to stay home. But thousands in Port-au-Prince still crowded this week into street markets, buses and repurposed pickup trucks known as tap-taps.

In Chile, which has seen cases grow to more than 2500 since March 3, many coronavirus diagnoses have been in upper-middle-class neighborhoods, in people just back from Europe, particularly Italy.

Health Minister Jaime Mañalich has complained that wealthy residents of the Las Condes and Vitacura sections of Santiago, the capital, are routinely violating required quarantines after they tested positive or encountered someone who did.

Las Condes Mayor Joaquín Lavín says more than half the cases in the city are in Las Condes and Vitacura.

The health minister says he has personally called wealthy residents supposedly in quarantine and discovers they are defying the order.

“You hear honking and street noises, which tells me they’re fooling us and disrespecting the quarantine,” Mañalich said.

Mexican authorities say at least 17 of the country’s wealthiest people returned after being infected during a ski trip to Vail, Colorado.

The first person to die in Rio state was Cleonice Gonçalves, a 63-year-old who worked as a maid for a woman in Leblon, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Brazil. The woman of the household was infected during a trip to Italy but Gonçalves’ family members said she wasn’t informed her boss was in isolation awaiting test results, according to Camila Ramos de Miranda, health secretary for the town of Miguel Pereira. Gonçalves, who had hypertension and diabetes, fell ill and died on March 17 in Miguel Pereira two hours north of the capital.

“I know we need to work, need our daily bread, but nothing is more important than the value of a life,” Miguel Pereira Mayor André Português said in a video posted on Facebook.

In Lima, Peru, the fallout from the pandemic is starkly different depending on class.

Nadia Muñoz watched her 8-year-old son, Luka, follow online lessons from his private Catholic school on a recent afternoon. The makeup artist and her family live in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, where Lima’s 15-day quarantine hasn’t been too disruptive.

“We have a supermarket nearby, light, water, internet, a phone and cable TV,” Muñoz said as she recorded a makeup lesson to post on Instagram.

In a shack on a nearby hill, Alejandro de la Cruz, 86, his wife María Zoila, and his son Ramiro, who sold clothes on the street until the quarantine started this month, were cooking with charcoal. They have no running water, electricity, internet or phone service.

They live among security guards, cooks, drivers, tailors, shoemakers, car mechanics and construction workers who are unemployed during the lockdown.

While there are more poor people in other regions of the world, Latin America remains the region in which the greatest proportion of wealth is held by a small number of citizens.

“Latin America is the most unequal region in the entire world. We’re talking about class disparities that are unlike anywhere else on the planet,” said Geoff Ramsey, a researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America.

Some Latin American governments were striving to help workers whose informal jobs provide them no access to the social safety net, including unemployment payments or severance packages.

Peru has announced a payment of $108 for the 2.7 million homes classified as poverty stricken. But the hillside shanty where de la Cruz and his unemployed neighbors are waiting out the quarantine aren’t poor enough to qualify.

“My son hasn’t worked for a week, there’s barely enough to buy a bit of food,” Zoila said.

In Argentina, the center-left government approved a $151 payment in April for informal workers, who make up 35% of the nation’s economy. Argentina plans to make more payments soon.

Brazil’s right-wing government has no such plans. On Twitter last week, left-leaning politicians called for maids to receive their salaries while self-isolating, adding the hashtag #PaidQuarantineNow.

The lack of help worries Patricia Martins, who lives in Brazil’s largest favela, or slum, Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro, which houses about 70,000 people in brick homes packed tightly together on steep slopes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Clean water is sporadic, sewage often runs in the streets and winding alleys and soaring staircases make it difficult for medical professionals to retrieve a sick person in an emergency.

“My concern is that if someone gets that sickness, this is going to be a focal point, like it’s a focal point for tuberculosis and for HIV,” said Martins, a 45-year-old cleaning woman.

“The person who’s a cleaner, the person who counts on that money to survive, to sustain their family — they’re going to bring in money from where?” she said of anti-virus measures. “If everything stops, it will end people’s lives! There will be nothing people can do to survive!”

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Sourcing & Methodology

Weissenstein reported from Havana and Briceño from Lima, Peru. Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile; Maria Verza in Mexico City; David Biller in Rio de Janeiro; and Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.

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Virtual religion: Denver houses of worship go online after coronavirus closures

At Central Presbyterian Church last Sunday, Pastor Louise Westfall stood in a strangely empty sanctuary, lit a candle, and delivered a livestreamed service.

“If you’re watching via Facebook, check in regularly during the broadcast. Those little emojis scrolling up the screen provide a way to connect with virtual touch,” the pastor told her distant — and social-distancing — congregation.

Elsewhere in downtown Denver, a kansho, or bronze bell, sounded outside the Denver Buddhist Temple, the traditional start to a Sunday dharma service. But last week’s service there, too, was digital, posted to the temple’s Facebook page, Instagram account and YouTube channel.

On Wednesday night, Chris Griggs , pastor of Denver Baptist Church, clipped a lapel microphone to his polo shirt, sat at his dining room table, placed a Bible in front of him, and looked into a camera.

“Our mission statement isn’t dependent on a building. We don’t need these things to make disciples and advance the Gospel,” he said early in a 28-minute video that was later uploaded to Vimeo.

Across the city, state and country, houses of worship have been closed indefinitely almost overnight, victims of a global pandemic unlike any in recent history. But with the tools of modern technology at hand, faith leaders soldier on, delivering the wisdom of ancient texts via Facebook, Zoom, Vimeo and YouTube.

“We never thought that we would be doing first-century church — in other words, church at homes — through digital connections, in the way that we are right now,” said Pastor Marty Lettow as he adjusted his glasses and spoke, via video, to members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Wednesday night.

At Temple Sinai, Rabbi Rick Rheins hosted a virtual class on the Talmud on Thursday afternoon. Congregants joined via Zoom, allowing them a break from the solitude this bizarre week brought. The chat was interactive, with laughter and heartfelt hellos and jokes about who wasn’t wearing pants.

“My goal,” Rheins said then, “was for everybody to be able to share and see each other. Because one of the parts of being in isolation is that we feel so alone.”

That is especially true for elderly Coloradans who live alone and for whom religious services are a source of great comfort. Online services, for those with the technical know-how to access them, can be a connection to a familiar and friendly weekly routine that has been dramatically upended this month.

“It’s hard to adjust,” said Iman Jodeh , a spokeswoman for the Colorado Muslim Society, which streams services on Facebook. “People look forward to going to the mosque. It’s a place of solitude and sanctuary and when that’s taken away from a lot of folks, it’s hard. Especially for people who are there every day.”

In an attempt to replace that solitude and sanctuary, leaders of congregations large and small, of faith systems Western and Eastern, sat or stood in front of a camera this week and did what centuries of their predecessors did before them, during times far more trying than this. They read aloud holy words from holy works.

Some did so in sacred spaces that now sit empty. Others spoke from a home office or living room couch, the sounds of their children and dogs in the background. Still others did so from a kitchen table or back patio. But all carried a similar message: We, as a people and a religion, have survived worse, and we will survive this.

“There is a fear around us right now,” said Father Sam Morehead during a pre-recorded Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. “There is this unknown disease, the coronavirus, in our community. We should be very prudent, very smart in how we handle our health, but we must not be ruled by any fear. Not ever.”

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3 face attempted murder charges following months-long Kingston shooting investigation

Three people are facing attempted murder and other charges following a shooting that took place last summer in Kingston.

Kingston police say a person was shot twice with a handgun on June 2, 2019, in a home on Rideau Street.

The person’s injuries were not life-threatening, and so they did not report them to police or go to the hospital.

Despite the lack of reporting, Kingston police received information about the shooting and began investigating.

On Friday, Kingston police officers went to the Toronto area. They arrested 34-year-old Gregory Beasly, of Toronto, and 29-year-old Kristopher Jerome, of Aurora.

All three are jointly charged with attempted murder; break and enter; unlicensed possession of a restricted weapon; possession of a loaded restricted firearm; pointing a firearm; use of a firearm to commit an offence; discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life; and possession of a restricted firearm while prohibited.

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Zimbabwe locks down to fight coronavirus amid economic crisis

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe began a 21-day nationwide lockdown on Monday, following South Africa in implementing some of the world’s toughest anti-coronavirus measures likely to hurt an economy already suffering hyperinflation and food shortages.

But unlike neighboring South Africa, where many citizens defied calls to stay indoors, with some clashing with security forces at the weekend, Zimbabweans mostly stayed home.

Zimbabwe has recorded just seven coronavirus cases and one death, but the government announced a range of financial measures to help fight the epidemic and said it was unfreezing 4,000 posts in the health sector.

Central Harare’s streets were deserted. Banks, government offices and businesses were shut. Zimbabwean police, who have a reputation for brutality, manned checkpoints on highways into the capital and questioned the few motorists.

In the poor township of Mbare, vegetable markets and the inter-city bus rank were closed and rows of wooden stalls used by vegetable vendors abandoned.

Nearby, six men sat outside their flat drinking gin. Fox Dhalu, a 36-year-old father of three, complained that some shops had hiked prices over the weekend.

“The government gave us short notice to prepare for this coronavirus lockdown. We are very angry about this,” he said.

A few blocks from the police station in the middle class suburb of Mabelreign, 73-year-old grandmother Angela Nerwande sat on an improvised stool selling vegetables on her stall.

“What will my grandchildren eat if I stay at home? “At my age I am not afraid of dying. If they want to arrest me let them come,” she said.

In a statement, Zimbabwe Police Spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “The law is very clear, those who don’t comply will be arrested and prosecuted.”

WATER CANNON

In South Africa, many of the most vulnerable people have struggled to maintain the lockdown, and people in poor, overcrowded townships have continued to mingle, sometimes prompting security forces to use water cannon to break them up.

State broadcaster SABC aired videos of soldiers humiliating people, making them do squats and pulling one along the ground with a wire. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the channel they should not use excessive force.

“We want our security services to partner with our communities to stop the spread of coronavirus,” she said.

South African police said a policeman and security guard had shot a man dead during the coronavirus lockdown.

In a bid to ease the impact, South Africa relaxed restrictions on taxis during rush hour and made early social security payments to the elderly.

“We are scared of being sick but there is nothing we can do, what are we going to eat? We are here to get paid so we can buy food,” said Maryjane Jinethi, 66, as she queued in Soweto for her check.

South Africa has 1,280 cases, and two deaths, as of Monday compared with an African total of 4,894.

In Nigeria’s capital Abuja and the main city Lagos, those who could afford to stock up queued at shops ahead of a 14-day lockdown starting at 11 p.m. (2200 GMT). [nL8N2BN5MC]

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