1. "Viagra ruled kosher for Passover" (BBC News, April 14, 2005)
2. "Bread is off the menu as safari park puts animals on kosher diet" (Independent, April 20, 2005)
3. "Zoo Keeps Gorillas Kosher for Passover" (AP, April 20, 2005)
VIAGRA GIVEN THE ALL-CLEAR
[Note by Tom Gross]
The Jewish festival of Passover begins on Saturday night and lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days outside Israel.
I occasionally try and send "lighter" articles on this, and attached below are stories from the BBC and the Associated Press.
* Viagra, which had been deemed not kosher since 1998 under strict dietary laws over the week-long Jewish spring holiday, has been given the all-clear by leading rabbis. A prescription for Viagra is issued in Israel on average once every minute, according to news reports.
* Accustomed to eating a slice of bread with cream cheese every morning, beginning Tuesday the gorillas and other animals at Ramat Gan safari have been fed matzo instead. Presumably the gorillas have not been prescribed Viagra too.
-- Tom Gross
VIAGRA RULED KOSHER FOR PASSOVER
Viagra ruled kosher for Passover
April 14, 2005
A leading Israeli rabbi has ruled that the anti-impotency pill Viagra can be taken by Jews on Passover, reversing a previous ban. Viagra had been deemed not kosher since 1998 under strict dietary laws over the week-long Jewish spring holiday.
Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu said the pill can be swallowed if it is encased in a special soluble kosher capsule first. Viagra's Israeli manufacturers said they sought an answer after receiving queries from worried religious men.
The drug was previously prohibited because its coating was considered inedible over Passover, when contact with everyday ingredients, known as hametz, is forbidden under Jewish law.
In particular, Jews must dispose of any foodstuffs containing leavening agents, such as bread, cake or biscuits, or anything which might have come into contact with them in the production process.
The dietary laws are so strict that only drugs to treat life-threatening conditions may be consumed during the festival, which lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days for Jews in the rest of the world.
According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Rabbi Eliahu, a former chief rabbi, said men can take Viagra if they purchase special capsules made from kosher gelatin in which to put the pill before the holiday starts.
Viagra's Israeli manufacturer, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals-Israel, said swallowing the capsule does not breach Jewish law because the Viagra would not come into direct contact with the body.
A prescription for Viagra is issued in Israel on average once every minute, the newspaper reports.
Since Viagra was introduced seven years ago, more than 23 million men have been prescribed the drug worldwide, Pfizer says. Annual sales are worth nearly $2bn.
PASSOVER LAWS (BBC)
Possession or consumption of foodstuffs containing leaven forbidden
Use of "koshered" crockery or cooking utensils
Consumption of specially approved food and household products
BREAD IS OFF THE MENU AS SAFARI PARK PUTS ANIMALS ON KOSHER DIET
Bread is off the menu as safari park puts animals on kosher diet
By Donald Macintyre
April 20, 2005
Animals at a leading Israeli safari park are being given a fully kosher diet over this year's Passover, requiring a significant change in diet for creatures such as elephants and gorillas.
The Ramat Gan Safari - one of the country's most popular attractions - will be feeding its animals with matzos, the brittle unleavened bread customary over the religious holiday which begins on Saturday night. Workers have begun cleaning the animals' habitats and the new diet has started to ensure that as required under Jewish law for humans no chametz - leavened products - will be in the enclosures at Passover. Elephants and apes at the park normally eat large quantities of bread.
"We're doing a thorough cleaning just like in every Israeli home so that the safari is kosher," said Sagit Horowitz, a spokeswoman for the safari. "The animals will receive a kosher for Passover mix of food and matzos so that by the time Passover arrives there isn't even a single crumb of chametz left near the animals." The animals will have a kosher diet for seven days.
Ms Horowitz said the move was required by the rabbinate as some animal food comes from tithes, the tenth of crops given to priests and the poor.
But the park also took into account the sensitivities of its visitors. "Religious and Haredi visitors come to the safari, and it doesn't look good when the elephant eats bread right in front of them."
ZOO KEEPS GORILLAS KOSHER FOR PASSOVER
Zoo Keeps Gorillas Kosher for Passover
By Ami Bentov
The Associated Press
April 20, 2005
When Passover comes around, even gorillas in Israel keep kosher. In line with many other Israelis busy cleaning their homes to remove bread-related products for the Passover holiday that begins Saturday night, the Safari Park Zoo near Tel Aviv does the same.
Since the zookeepers and handlers cannot touch any leavened products during the weeklong holiday that marks the biblical Jewish exodus from Egypt, the gorillas and other animals are also fed matzo - the unleavened cracker Jews eat to remember that in their rush to flee slavery, the ancient Israelites' bread did not have time to rise.
Accustomed to eating a slice of bread with cream cheese every morning, beginning Tuesday the gorillas and other animals at the safari were fed matzo instead, said Emelia Turkel, the zoo's curator.
"This turns out to be an interesting time for the gorillas and for the other animals because they get a bit of a change in diet," Turkel said. "We call this environmental enrichment, Jewish style."
The zoo has always fed the animals matzo during the Passover holiday, Turkel said, but try to limit their intake to just one or two crackers a day to prevent them from suffering from the most common side-effect of matzo - constipation.
"If they eat too much it does cause stomach problems, so we hope that our public this week will not be feeding their own matzo to the animals," Turkel said.
Watching the zookeepers throw matzos to the excited gorillas - romping in the grassy area after the crackers - visitors to the safari laughed and joked about the holiday tradition.
"I think it's a good idea for them. They're influenced by the Jews here," said Moshe, a visitor to the safari who gave only his first name.