Mayor Pugh on leave, a Mrs. Maisel Haggadah and a First Temple-era discovery

Heart Ball
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh welcomes the gala attendees (Steve Ruark).

Mayor Pugh takes leave

Hours after The Sun first reported that Mayor Catherine Pugh accepted more than $128,000 in combined payments from city employee health insurer Kaiser Permanente and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield for her “Healthy Holly” children’s books—in addition to her $500,000 arrangement with the University of Maryland Medical System—the mayor is stepping away “indefinitely.” In a statement, the mayor’s office attributed her leave to the pneumonia she’s been fighting “for the past few weeks,” rather than the fallout surrounding the children’s book controversy, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. Pugh “has been advised by her physicians that she needs to take time to recover and focus on her health,” the statement said. “At this time, with the Mayor’s health deteriorating, she feels as though she is unable to fulfill her obligations as Mayor of Baltimore City. To that end, Mayor Pugh will be taking an indefinite leave of absence to recuperate from this serious illness.” Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young will step in to fill her place, per City Charter rules. “I am utterly heartbroken by the developments that have unfolded over the past several weeks,” Young said in a statement. “I pray that Mayor Pugh continues to recover from her illness.”

Read more: Pugh taking ‘indefinite’ leave of absence amid more ‘Healthy Holly’ fallout; Council President Young to fill in

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The Maxwell House Haggadah goes Maisel

Maxwell House has partnered with Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to release a limited edition of its much-loved Passover Haggadah. To get your hands on one of these (while supplies last), order Maxwell House Coffee on Amazon.com. The traditional Maxwell House Passover Haggadah is the most widely used Haggadah in the world, according to BusinessWire.

Also see: Maxwell House is offering a ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Haggadah

2,600-year-old seal bearing name of First Temple-era official discovered in Jerusalem

A 2,600-year-old seal bearing the name of an official in the court of a First Temple period king of Judah was discovered in the City of David in Jerusalem. The seal reads “[belonging] to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King.” It was discovered during an archeological dig inside a large public building that was destroyed in the sixth century BCE – likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. Large stone debris, burnt wooden beams and numerous charred pottery shards also were discovered in the building, all indications that they had survived an immense fire. The dig was conducted by archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University. The stamp and its seal impression that were discovered in the dig are each about one centimeter in size. The name Nathan-Melech appears once in the Bible, in the second book of Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah, who took part in the religious reform that the king was implementing. “Since many of the well-known bullae and stamps have not come from organized archaeological excavations but rather from the antiquities market, the discovery of these two artifacts in a clear archaeological context that can be dated is very exciting,” Prof. Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.—JTA

Israeli plan to partially decriminalize marijuana possession goes into effect

 A plan to partially decriminalize marijuana possession went into effect in Israel. Under the plan, which went into effect at midnight on April 1, use and possession of marijuana in small amounts in personal homes is not an offense. Possession in public of amounts for personal use will result in a fine of about $275 for a first time offense and double for the second offense. A third offense within seven years will trigger a criminal investigation, or loss of driver’s or gun license. Personal use is defined by the country’ Anti-Drug Authority as about 15 grams, though the reform legislation does not name a specific amount. Those with permission to possess cannabis for medical use must be able to present their license to police if confronted in public. The new marijuana reform does not apply to soldiers, minors, or those with a criminal record. Minors will, however, be directed to rehabilitation programs as opposed to entering the criminal justice system. The plan was adopted in 2017 by Knesset after the recommendations of a panel set up by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. The reform legislation is temporary and will last three years at which point the Knesset can decide to make it permanent. Israel had already increased the number of doctors who can write prescriptions for medical cannabis, removed limits on the number of marijuana growers, made cannabis available at public pharmacies, and made it possible to receive medical cannabis with just a doctor’s prescription. In December, 2018 the Knesset passed legislation legalizing the export of medical marijuana.—JTA

Passover seder plate
Passover seder plate (Brandon L. Saunders)

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