The Gantseh Megillah

April 1, 2000

Five days ago there was over a foot of snow on the ground which the wind was whipping into some rather impressive drifts. Looking out my living room window at this new blast of winter weather, the thought that Pesach was just a few days away had not yet permeated my consciousness. As with many of us, I associate the arrival of Passover with the blooming of crocuses, Robins on my front lawn, and temperatures that allow me to forget my bulky winter coat for several months to come. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the calendar today and was suddenly hit with the realization that the first night of Pesach was a mere 48 hours away!

Putting together “The Gantseh Megillah” every month is a project that begins as soon as the current issue is uploaded onto the ‘net. If it wasn’t for that fact, this Passover edition wouldn’t be ready until well after the last matzoh brie was eaten, and bagels made their reappearance on our breakfast tables. There is a tremendous wealth of material on the Internet relating to Judaism, not the least of which has to do with our holidays and culture. Every time I log onto the ‘net to research ideas for the next edition of the “Megillah” I find myself awed by how, we as a people, have not only survived the myriad attempts to annihilate us from the face of the earth, but how we continue to remain relevant and vital in this constantly evolving world of high technology.

Does our ingenuity and adaptability come from the need to survive over the centuries in different unfriendly and hostile environments while maintaining our distinct identity, or have we succeeded in doing so because OF our strong sense of who we are? I suppose it’s the old chicken and the egg argument to which there really is no set answer. What IS clear though, is the fact that Jews have always been at the forefront of change and growth in our civilizations. And although many of our religious beliefs and customs appear to me mired in the past, we have an innate ability to adapt those beliefs into the modern world thus giving them a new relevance and importance to our heritage.

To prove my point, I would ask all of you to direct your browsers to your favourite search engine site. Some suggestions would be Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, Hot Bot, Yahoo or any search site you may have a preference for. Enter the word Jewish in the search box and click the ok button and see how many suggested sites are presented to you in a matter of seconds. If you try other related terms such as the name of a Jewish holiday or religious event such as a Bar Mitzvah, you will have similar results.

My point is simply that I feel a real sense of pride in the fact that I am part of a nation of people who have survived innumerable acts of persecution since ancient times. Not only have we survived our persecutors, but we endeavored and succeeded in making major contributions to society each step of the way. Jews have been at the forefront of technology, business, education, and just about any other field of human development you could name. This situation continues as we enter into the new Information Age which is driven by digital technology. Just as you can find limitless examples of Judaism on the World Wide Web today, I can only believe that we will be found in great numbers at the head of all major positive achievements as civilization continues to advance. That is simply the nature of who we are.

Arnold and I would like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone a “Ziesen Pesach” or “Sweet Passover.” May you and your families thrive in the spirit and strength the Jewish People have shared throughout the ages.

Much love to all of you,
Michael D. Fein

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