Aimed at Ecology, Park Group’s Letter Offends Some Jews

The Prospect Park Alliance recently reminded the public “as Passover approaches” not to throw bread in the lake. Leaders of some Jewish groups found the message an affront.

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It initially seemed like just an eco-friendly news release — a reminder to “the public” not to throw bread into Prospect Park Lake because it is not healthy for geese and other waterfowl.

But the message included a not-too-subtle hint that it was aimed for a narrower audience: “As Passover approaches, Prospect Park is reaching out to the public regarding the removal of chametz (e.g. bread and other leavened products) from the home.”

That language — and the implication that observant Jews were the ones causing problems by feeding the geese — has provoked an unexpected confusion and outrage from some Jewish leaders, including one who called the message “an affront” and “a disgrace.” Several rabbis said they were simply puzzled by why such a release was necessary, since throwing bread into the water is not a pre-Passover custom and only a few Jews might have individually chosen to do so.

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Published: March 21, 2013