The Joys Of Spring


Drake’s, the iconic kosher cake company left for dead when its parent company Hostess declared bankruptcy in 2012, is alive again, sold by Hostess to McKee Foods, home of the Little Debbie brand.

McKee is paying $27.5 million for the recipes, equipment and “intellectual property” associated with Drake’s Coffee Cake, Devil Dogs, Ring Dings (intellectual property?), Yodels, Yankee Doddles, Sunny Doodles, and other products. It is not clear when Drake’s products will be back on the shelves.

McKee’s website says its products are produced “using only the finest kosher ingredients.” Drake’s kosher baking facility in Wayne, N.J., was not included in the deal with McKee, meaning the new Drake’s will be produced at an unspecified bakery, which might present possible kashrut complications. McKee products are, by and large, certified by Triangle K, while Drake’s had been certified by the Orthodox Union.

“We know that Drake’s Cakes are unique baked goods that have a loyal following,” said Mike McKee, president and CEO. “We will strive to bake the Drake’s cakes, not just for taste and quality, but also to deliver on the memories of the loyal Drake’s fans.”

In a blurb for Larry Rutman’s new baseball book, “American Jews and America’s Game” (University of Nebraska Press), historian Jonathan Sarna writes: “There may well be more books about Jews and baseball than there are Jews who played professional baseball.” Nevertheless, this book may be slightly outdated the day before it hits the shelves (April 1) if Nathan Samuel (Nate) Freiman of Washington, D.C. becomes the newest Jewish player in the bigs by making the Opening Day (March 31) roster of the Oakland A’s (he was just traded from the Houston Astros).

First baseman and designated hitter Freiman, 26, built like Frank Howard at 6-feet-8 and 250 pounds, may be a rookie but he’ll have “Israel” on the back of his baseball card. Freiman was the breakout star of Israel’s effort, valiant but in vain, at the World Baseball Classic, where he hit four home runs in two consecutive games.

Last summer, Freiman hit 24 homers with 105 RBIs for the San Diego Padres’ affiliated San Antonio Missions (AA), combining with another Jew from the Israel team, Cory Decker (25 homers for the Missions, 30 overall), for what was likely the greatest Jewish slugging duo in history, albeit in the Texas League.

According to the Astros website, manager Bo Porter says Freiman is “very athletic. He might surprise you, because he moves so well. He knows what to do, and he can do it. … He hits the ball to all fields. We like that about him. And he has a nice, short stroke for a big man.” Though Freiman had a solid on-base percentage in the minors, he’s been over-anxious in the Grapefruit League, it seems, with no walks and one homer in 36 at-bats (as of March 22), batting .278. You can find his complete minor league and spring training statistics at; then check the A’s roster on Opening Day.

Rabbi Menachem Froman, 68, who died from cancer March 4, was a beautiful contradiction. Grandson of a Gerrer chasid, as Orthodox as any black hatter, he preferred wearing white — a white kapota (robe), a white spodik (fur hat) matching his long white beard, saying Judaism needed to transform from black to white. As a young man he wore camouflage, one of the soldiers who liberated the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, before going on to become a leader in the settlement movement, standing in solidarity with the Gaza settlers when they were removed by Israel in 2005.

And yet, he was on friendly terms with Yasir Arafat and negotiated (in defiance of the Israeli government) with Hamas, all the while insisting he would never evacuate his settlement, Tekoa.

And yet, when young vandals from a settlement defaced a mosque, Rabbi Froman went to that mosque, crying “Allahu Akhbar,” (“God is great”), in solidarity with the Palestinians there.

In the end, he was mourned by everyone. The new pro-settler partners in the government praised him: Naftali Bennett called him “a Jew with a gigantic heart”; Uri Ariel added, “Rabbi Froman was one of [Israel’s] greatest warriors and lovers, who loved peace and chesed, hated argument, loved his fellow man and brought them closer to the Torah.” He was praised in the leading Palestinian Authority paper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, a paper where even its crossword puzzle has been wildly anti-Zionist.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (according to a translation by the Palestinian Media Watch) headlined, “Settler and Peace Activist … Has Passed Away,” noting that the rabbi believed “Jewish and Muslim spiritual leaders are the most appropriate people to find a solution … since this conflict has a religious nature.” The paper said he was “willing to live in a Palestinian state in the event that Jewish settlements in the West Bank would be evacuated.”

Well, that’s not exactly what he said. Rabbi Froman, who supported the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, told the Jerusalem Post that settlements needn’t be evacuated but should “remain intact within a sovereign Palestinian state.”

Settlements have become a dirty word in some circles, but in recent years various Palestinian leaders have floated a similar idea to Froman’s. The PA’s chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told the Jerusalem Post. “I hope the day will come when Israelis can live freely in the state of Palestine.” And Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was quoted in The Atlantic, “Jews, to the extent they choose to stay and live in the state of Palestine, will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the State of Israel.”

If peace is real and not a fraud, said Rabbi Froman, why should Jewish communities (settlements) not be allowed on the West Bank? Hillel Halkin has been one of the few commentators to follow-up, writing in The Wall Street Journal: “This is a fair question that deserves an honest answer. … By what principle should Jews be able to live anywhere in the world except for the most traditionally cherished part of their ancestral homeland?”

Writes Halkin, “There is one obvious solution for Israel’s West Bank settlements that has been all but completely overlooked: Let the settlers continue living where they are, but in the state of Palestine. … If over one million Palestinian Arabs can live as they do in towns and villages all over Israel, why cannot a few hundred thousand Israeli Jews live, symmetrically, in a West Bank Palestinian state?

“It would be difficult,” says Halkin. “It would be complicated. It would be risky for both sides. But isn’t it at least worth thinking about?”