Today is Gevurah she b'Chesed - a day of strength in a week of loving kindness.
I don't know about the middle of the country, but on both the east and west coasts of the US there is a buzz about the Great Matzah Shortage of 2008.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Friday, the day before the start of Pesach, there was little to no matzah to be found. This news made the front page of the Bay Area section of the Chronicle. "The reasons for the shortage are not entirely clear. But theories abound. A jubilee year in Israel, when some fields lie fallow, might have depressed production. Others believe that grocery stores may have underestimated a rise in Jewish observance."
In New York, the talk is about the missing Manischewitz Tam Tam crackers. The reason for this shortage is clear. David Rossi, a spokesperson for Manischewitz explains in this New York Times article: "“What we did was put a brand-new oven in our Newark facility. Much higher speeds, all computer-controlled, a state-of-the-art baking line. That was something we were hoping to have up and running well prior to the Passover baking season. Due to some engineering delays, we missed the window.”
These shortages bring out the differences in Jewish life between the two cities. In New York the hoopla is about not having one particular snack for the week. Everything else, especially matzah, is in full supply. In San Francisco, the matzah ran out before the first seder had begun -- something that would be unthinkable in New York.
It is sad that the compassion level of some in our San Francisco community is at somewhat of a low level, as evidenced by the Orthodox Jew who is quoted in the Chronicle saying, "Those who didn't buy well ahead of time are not planning as wisely as the holiday would dictate." I am glad to say that in my Beth Sholom community those who have are offering to share with those who missed out. So there is the spirit of the day--the strength of our community reaching out to o thers with loving kindness.