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Jewish Journal

Up Front

April 9, 1998 | 8:00 pm

The death of Dr. Benjamin Spock and the extent ofhis contributions to the raising of American children have been dulycommented on by the media. But nothing I have read has discussed hisinfluence on parents living in other cultures, except to note that"Baby and Child Care" has been translated into many languages.

You will have to take my word for the followingtrue story, since the only witness to this event, other than myselfand the woman in question, is now approaching 40 and a professor ofmedical physics at a Midwestern university. He insists that he has norecollection of this, a likely circumstance, since he was barely ayear old at the time.

In the early 1960s, when I was living inJerusalem, the physicist-to-be awoke one morning with a screamingfit. His mother, already pregnant with our second child and with alimited tolerance for howling babies, ordered me to leave theapartment with him and not to return until he was silent.

Outside, I tried all of the popular remedies forsuch fits -- burping, back-patting, soothing sounds, snuggling andthe rest. Nothing worked. If anything, the noise level increased witheach unsuccessful attempt at suppression.

Finally, it occurred to me that perhaps the infantwas suffering from some internal malady which required medicalattention. Two blocks away, there was a medical clinic.

Inside the waiting room sat a new immigrant fromMorocco with four or five children, each neatly brushed and combed,and all sitting silent and well-behaved, in sharp contrast to myscreaming baby boy.

After a few minutes, the Moroccan woman and herchildren were called into the clinic office. During the 10 minutesthey were inside, my child hardly paused for breath in his continualhowling. Then they emerged, walking quietly and sedately in front ofus on their way to the exit, their mother bringing up therear.

As she crossed in front of me, she stopped, lookedpityingly at the screaming infant, picked him up out of my arms andplaced him on her shoulder.

Instant silence.

Giving me what seemed to be a look of disgust, shereturned my son to me and continued on toward the front door. Thenshe halted again, returned to us, reached into her string bag, andpulled out and placed on my lap, slowly and deliberately, a copy ofthe Hebrew translation of "Baby and Child Care." -- Yehuda Lev, Contributing Writer

African Passover

Consider this,the ultimate in Passover music: A 9-year-old Jewish African girlcroons in her native language of Luganda, "Sing with Jerusalem,rejoice with Jerusalem, I will sing my song for Jerusalem, Come myfriend, we go to Jerusalem."

Then, in the tradition of the Abayudaya Jews ofUganda, of which she is a part, she and a choir switch to Hebrew withmany repetitions of "L'shana haba b'Yerushalayim," while her fatherweaves in an infectious counter-melody in Luganda.

Rachel Namudosi, child soloist and darling of therecently released recording "Shalom Everybody Everywhere!" onceimpressed the vice president of Uganda so much, he lent her village abicycle.

Proceeds from the recording will benefit theAbayudaya, who have been practicing Judaism in eastern Uganda since1919 and who live on subsistence agriculture without electricity orrunning water. A good portion of these proceeds will pay for schoolscholarships for Abayudaya youth such as Rachel.

The recording features the Kohavim Tikvah Choirsinging -- in English, Hebrew, Luganda and Swahili -- traditionalJewish liturgy set to African melodies and rhythms, as well as newcompositions created by the Abayudaya for religious services anddaily Jewish life.

The 17 songs on the album include Abayudayaversions of "Sh'ma Yisrael," "Hinei Ma Tov," "L'cha Dodi," theShehecheyanu, and "Adon Olam," as well as the traditional version of"Hatikvah."

To order, send $15 for each CD and/or $10 foreach audio cassette, plus $2 for postage and handling in the UnitedStates ($3 for Canada, $5 for other countries). Add $1 for postageand handling for each additional CD or cassette in the United Statesand Canada ($2 for other countries). Allow one month fordelivery.

Please send a check to: Kulanu Music Project,1217 Edgevale Rd., Silver Spring, MD 20910-1612. -- Karen Primack

Commissar of Kashrut

Do you knowwhat you are eating? Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz sure does. This commissarof kashrut can tell you how many insects are likely to evade the FDAinspectors and hide in a jar of apple butter, how much mold may creepinto a bottle of ground paprika, and what kind of "foreign matter"(don't ask -- you don't want to know) are in those crispy red peppersyou've just sliced up in your salad. Aside from being unappetizing,insects and much "foreign matter" that get into our food supplies aretreif. AsEidlitz says, "We'd rather eat a Big Mac than vegetables with bugs inthem."

Eidlitz, authorof "Is It Kosher?" has long been the region's undisputed expert inkosher products and the way food is processed in manufacturing plantsacross the country. This maven of emulsifiers and scientist ofstearates strolls the aisles of food shows throughout the country,keeping his pulse on the state of the kosher cornucopia we enjoy insupermarkets today.

Before Pesach,Eidlitz is busier than an accountant processing last-minute taxreturns. He gives supermarket tours and presentations throughoutSouthern California, pointing out the perils of Pesach shopping. "Itis not a biblical commandment to buy every item marked 'Kosher forPesach,'" he says.

During a recentpresentation at Young Israel of Century City, a bemused Eidlitzopened his big, battered black suitcase, which was bulging with emptyfood packages and boxes, and displayed some of the more unusualproducts recently "certified" kosher -- including a brand of dogtreats, a red mesh Santa stocking filled with candy, bottled waterwith twocertifications, and a watch (yes, a watch) bearing an unauthorizedhechsher. "I'mjust wondering, though, if this watch is glatt or non-glatt kosher!"he said, joking.

Despite thenasty politics that sometimes go along with kosher certification,Eidlitz maintains that, ultimately, it's the consumer who controlswhat gets certified. "At this point, if you ask your supermarketmanager to try to get a certain product kosher, you'll likely see himgo out and find it soon," he said. "The '90s mentality, at least inthe food industry, is to get as many products certified kosher aspossible."

For moreinformation about products that are kosher for Pesach or for the restof the year, visit Eidlitz's web site at http://www/kosherquest.org/or e-mail him at eeidlitz@kosherquest.org/. -- Judy R. Gruen,Contributing Writer


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