Our favorite curmudgeonly columnist, Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer, goes into a rant most years against the high cost of Pesach products. This year, he’s opted not to, so we’ll pass along a plaint from a faithful reader in Paramus.
He cited just one example, but it can surely stand for them all: One name-brand 5.5-ounce box of Pesachdik cookies was priced at $6 ($5 with a discount). If a consumer must pay the full price, that’s more than $1 an ounce. (The cookies, he added, were crumbled, and the box two-thirds empty.)
Our reader is angry, as many people are. They feel that manufacturers and food purveyors are taking advantage of them, that they are, in a sense, a captive audience. Jewish consumers pay a premium, year-round, for kosher food – and now, at Passover, there is a premium on the premium. This is particularly distressing at a time, our reader said, “when things are so tough, particularly for seniors and for many other Jews who keep Pesach and try to do the right thing.”
The kosher food producers and purveyors should have rachmones on already strapped Jewish consumers and “do the right thing” by them. And if they won’t, on their own, perhaps the certifying agencies can persuade them to, either separately or as a group,
There was a very small “news hole” this week, and we went back and forth over whether to fill choice space with old news – the seder at the White House, apparently the first to be held there. Ultimately, it seemed important to record the moment. (See page 29.) It also seems important, in light of the discontent reportedly expressed by uninvited Jewish supporters, to commend the fact that it was not an overblown affair of state but an intimate gathering of family and friends – just as most of our seders were. And while exquisitely produced Haggadot abound, the use of the Maxwell House Haggadah, which many of us grew up with, gave the seder a homey touch.
We do have one cavil: The kitchen should have been kashered and the food strictly kosher for Passover, not “kosher-style,” whatever that may mean. Perhaps next year they’ll do the right thing.
President Obama reportedly said, at the close of an impromptu seder during his campaign last year, “Next year in the White House.” We hope that’s true for many years to come.