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Monday, April 10, 2006

Creative Ways to Get Rid of Chametz

This is amusing. From NY Magazine:
Security has been tight this week at the Central Park Zoo, with ticket takers, staff, and guards on the lookout for suspicious packages of cookies, pretzels, hot-dog buns, and pound cake. Observant Jews have till Wednesday to clear their houses of hametz (leavened products) before Passover, and every year many of them take their castoffs to the zoo. Baffled zoo staff note that the snow monkeys are the main beneficiaries of the pre-holiday pig-out, apparently because the polar bear’s glass wall is too high and the sea lions would only be interested if offered gefilte fish. “If a big group comes in carrying bags, admission is going to notice,” says zoo spokesperson Kate McIntyre.

The small, pink-faced snow monkeys (Japanese macaques) may not mind the interruption to their grooming routine and carefully prepared diet of fruits, greens, and nuts, but their caretakers sure do. Standard protocol is to politely ask food-throwers to stop. If they persist, security hovers and asks again (last year, one food-flinger said, “I don’t answer to you; I answer to a higher power”), but they are rarely ejected. “They really don’t know why they shouldn’t do it,” says one zoo volunteer. “They think they’re doing a good deed. I can’t say they like it when I tell them to stop. My answer to them is to take it to a shelter.” Other volunteers aren’t so tolerant. “If we see them do it, we should either frisk them for food or throw them out,” insists one.

According to a curator at the zoo, throwing the monkeys your Shabbos leftovers carries similar risks as feeding your families Shabbos leftovers does:
The real risk for the animals in eating too much people food is that they will get fat and lazy.

Sounds right.


Blogger Sarah said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

There's being weird in a good way, and being weird in a bad way.

Feeding the zoo animals because one is getting rid of chametz creatively, not realizing that it's not good for the animals, is a good way. Quirky and funny.

Telling zoo staff "I don't answer to you" is a bad way.

8:33 AM  
Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

I'm gonna find me a genuine Boro Park bonfire. (Has this joke been made already?)

8:50 AM  
Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

What, now Pesach has to have a tashlich too? And what, are they going to ban it because there is too much socializing going on outside the gorilla cage?

10:13 AM  
Blogger nikki said...

really, obviously they have not seen "madagascar." the animals don't need chametz! they get steak and massages...

10:51 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'I'm gonna find me a genuine Boro Park bonfire. '


11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are people really that stupid?! Who doesn't know that you can't feed just anything to wild animals? I mean, why can't they just drive over to the nearest dumpster and toss the stuff? Or better yet, as the zoo volunteer suggested, take it to a food bank or homeless shelter so it doesn't go to waste. Are people just lazy? Maybe they figure they're sending the kids' to the zoo to get them out of the house anyway, so they may as well send their garbage bags of cookies, pretzels, and crackers with them to feed to all the wild animals. ?!?!

12:13 PM  
Blogger Elie said...

I agree with midwestern gal. This an illegal action that is being done specifically by "frum" Jews - i.e., a textbook chillul hashem, plain and simple. And even sadder, these people actually think they're doing a mitzvah - so no chance of teshuvah. Depressing.

12:43 PM  
Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

I disagree. In fact the whole story doesn't make much sense. Real frum Jews wouldn't pay money to go to a zoo jsut to get rid of their chometz...

Well, unless they had a coupon...

1:06 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'Pesach has to have a tashlich too? '

Many Jews in the Bronx do tashlich at the Bronx Zoo! (The Bronx River runs through the Zoo property.)

1:33 PM  
Blogger glen roth said...

The 5 Towns has set up locations were you can bring your chametz on Wednesday. There will be workers from the sanitation Dept. as well as garbage trucks to help.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

This is just a downright bizarre article.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Adam Dickter said...

Just as long as they don't try to feed any of that lousy K for P crap to the animals. That would be cruelty.
Local rabbis should absolutely emphasize the mitzva of donating chametz to pantries to help needy non-Jews, or even to Jews to be used after Pesach, if that's allowed. It's a sin to waste food. Like your mother always said, "There are people starving in Africa ..."

2:54 PM  
Blogger Kysr said...

I'm not endorsing this, but I'll give you understandable and good-hearted reason why they are doing it.

Lets say you have leftover chametz you need to get rid of. Obvious good-hearted solution is to give it to a food bank for distribution to the poor (As I did earlier today). But what do you do with containers of food that have already been opened. Maybe there is a half-eaten box of cookies. You cant give that to the food bank, because its already been opened. At the same time, you dont think it would be exactly healthy to gorge on a half a box of cookies, and you dont want it to waste perfectly good food and throw it away.

Why not feed it to animals? It doesn't go to waste and the animals benefit. And what better place than the zoo.

Now, I wouldn't do it because I know that most of this food is bad for the animals, and I can read the signs saying "Do Not Feed the Animals" Furthermore, if just one person did it for one animal, it would probably be OK, but if many people fed the same animal, thats bad.

However, at least one should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they might be doing the wrong thing for the right reasons rather than selfish reasons.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another creative way to get rid of your chometz:


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7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a new one on me. How can they think feeding the animals like that is a good idea? Don't they know it can make them sick? I saw someone selling their chametz on Ebay, but this really is a new one. Good Lord.

7:19 PM  
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7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this article is totally made-up and satirical.

9:51 PM  
Blogger chareidi said...


2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't you seal the half-eaten cookies in a plastic bag and stick it in the pantry and sell it with the rest of the chametz?

Bread and fresh cake might go bad during the time of Pesach, but cookies and pretzels and pantry stables wouldn't, right?

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Yorkers. (shakes head in dumfounded amazement.) Haven't they heard of burning hametz? In my town, they have fires by the fire station. This makes for a nice community "happening," and also helps us develop a good working relationship with our local public safety first responders. They certainly appreciate having all the Jews come down to the firehouse to burn stuff in a controlled environment, rather than having to make all sorts of "house calls" to deal with barbeque grills run amok.

Working with the fire department means that we don't need no steenkin' "Hatzolah" in our town, we get perfectly good service from our taxpayer-funded entities.

I would also think that throwing it into the garbage would also work.

9:57 AM  
Blogger BBJ said...

When I was a kid we used to feed leftover chametz that couldn't be donated to the ducks at Stow Lake. Similar impulse. Besides, snow monkeys are cute. (Are these the same ones that bathe in the hot springs in Japan?) I'm inclined to give these folks--at least those not mouthing off to the staff--the benefit of the doubt.

I wonder if someone could get a grant to do zoo outreach next year. Educate the community about the animal's food needs and maybe do a tour for the kids--get them to turn over the chametz at the door in exchange for feeding a giraffe some leaves or somethin'....

1:38 PM  
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