Friday, October 13, 2006
The great ho, Shana?
No, I'm not talking about a ho named Shana, no matter how great you may think she is. Idiot. It's the Great Hoshana, It's Hoshana Rabbah!
Now that we've cleared that up, these next three days have the strangest rituals Judaism has to offer. I have always imagined a Gentile stepping in to one of the services we celebrate this week. This past week they would have seen us shaking and walking in procession with long sticks and fruits and yelling things like "Save us! Three hours! Save us!". In addition to multiplying that by seven today, we also beat the crap out of defenseless twigs while one of us wears a white robe and switches melodies on us. Are we Jewish or Druish? Is this some sort of Friday the Thirteenth ritual, perhaps a way of conquering friggatriskaidekaphobia? Afterwards our hands are covered in green. There are chairs at my high school that to this day are covered in green stains, never to be lifted. Tomorrow's no better. Once again the leader is clad in a white death-robe (or in some communities, a poncho, trenchcoat, or raincoat) and praying for rain in a plaintive melody. In the communities that wear the waterproof prayer-gear, we throw water at the prayer leader (anyone at Koach's services at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel last year should remember this). Finally we dance with heavy Torahs while impaired and inebriated and singing prayers to the Star-Spangled Banner and college fight songs while simultaneuously taking shots of hard alcohol (careful not to drop the Torah) and reading the last parts of the Torah again and again making sure each and every person present gets a shot to go up to the Torah.
It seems to be a nine day rain dance we do, some days in different forms than others. The Torah is equated to water and both are treasured above all else during these days.
Hoshanah Rabbah, Shmini Atzeret, Simchat Torah; those crazy Jews. A point of advice, if you are going to invite a non-Jewish friend to Jewish services, don't make it these three days. I made the mistake of inviting some friends for the Purim Megillah Reading and didn't explain it to them in advance. Awkward... Those crazy Jews...