March 28, 2002
A Viagravating Pesach
Pfizer's Viagra, the anti-impotence drug, contains chametz and therefore is not kosher for Passover, rabbis say.
"The coating apparently has a leavened substance," Rabbi Menachem Rosenberg, the rabbi of Clalit Health Services in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post. Therefore, the drug (sildenafil citrate) is not kosher for the holiday.
Dr. Alexander Olshinitzky, a Dan Region physician who treats impotence, told the Post he has received numerous queries from observant patients about whether they can take Viagra during the holiday. The doctor said with a smile that some women may welcome the news that Viagra contains chametz, as "surveys show that before Pesach and during the first days of the holiday, women are so tired and stressed from preparations that they're not very interested in sex."
Hands Up! It's the Matzah Police!
Israel's Interior Ministry will fine any business offering leavened foods during Passover. The ministry is borrowing five Druse inspectors from the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry to be matzah inspectors during the eight-day holiday. The fine will be $80, more than double last year's fine for selling leavened food. Druse Arabs often work as government inspectors, carrying out certain tasks forbidden to Israeli Jews on holidays. -- Jewish Telegraphic Agency
When Hollywood lauded studio and independent films during two awards ceremonies last weekend, there were the expected Jewish jokes.
"I got an e-mail today that said that Frodo Baggins was an anti-Semite," Oscar host Whoopi Goldberg deadpanned, referring to a character in "The Lord of the Rings." Goldberg was really referring to the mudslinging campaign against John Nash's alleged anti-Semitism in the 74th Oscar fave "A Beautiful Mind," which took home four awards.
Veteran director Arthur Hiller accepted the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his long list of activities, which included direct aid to Russian Jewish refuseniks and support of the Anti-Defamation League.
A surprise appearance by Woody Allen, who hadn't bothered to show up for any of his own three previous Oscars, elicited the evening's first standing ovation.
Meanwhile, at the 17th Annual Independent Spirit Awards -- indie cinema's version of the Oscars -- gross-out comedy director John Waters gleefully noted that "Hollywood's closed for a month at Christmas, and everyone's Jewish."
Director Terry Zwigoff of the subversive teen flick "Ghostworld" -- which has a Jewish heroine -- won two awards, including best first screenplay. Some previously unknown filmmakers received Spirit nominations for their Jewish-themed films: Henry Bean of the controversial Jewish neo-Nazi saga, "The Believer"; Sandi Simcha DuBowski of "Trembling Before G-d,"; and B.Z. Goldberg, Carlos Bolado and Justine Shapiro of the doc "Promises," about children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. -- Tom Tugend, Naomi Pfefferman