Besides being a deeply spiritual holiday that celebrates the completion of the acceptance of Torah law that was begun at Sinai after the Exodus, Purim is a time for festivities and costumes (especially for the kids).
A boy is bar mitzvah'd automatically on his thirteenth birthday, no ritual required. Still, it's customary to have the young man called to the torah. It can be done on any day of the week that the torah is read - Monday, Thursday, or Shabbat (Saturday).
I had the great fortune of hearing Andy perform last night. Seeing him brought back many memories, especially of jamming in Washington Square in 1965 just a few weeks before I went to Nashville to play fiddle with Bill Monroe on the Grand Ole Opry.
The literal translation of the hebrew word havdalah is 'separation'. In Jewish practice it's a ritual that bids farewell to the twenty-five hours of Shabbat and prepares us for the week to come which is greeted with the words shavuah tov. Since it is now Friday afternoon, and I will soon be down for the count (at least for the next twenty-five hours) until I hope to photograph another Havdalah, I wish you all a wonderful weekend, and to those who care, Shabbat Shalom (peaceful day of rest).
With the extreme cold in the New York area I've been wearing my Borsalino fedora that I bought a few years ago at the Primo Hat Shop on Kingston Ave in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I went back in my photo archives and found a bunch of photos that I took while in the shop (no surprise there) that hadn't been 'developed'.
The fedora is a distinct manner of dress for Chabad chasidim. After bar mitzvah it's a rite of passage for boys to shop with their fathers for a hat.
One of the most beautiful rituals in Judaism is the celebration of Havdalah, bidding farewell to Shabbos at the end of the day with a feeling of longing and anticipation for the next one to occur in seven days. The ritual objects are simple: a braided candle, a cup of wine, and some spices. It's usually performed in the home with family and friends gathered around to see by the light of the candle and smell the aroma of the spices.
One of the great innovations of the Chabad movement was to encourage public displays of Jewish pride and celebration. Hanukkah menorahs abound all over New York and in the suburbs. The largest menorah in the world (Guinness Book of Records) is set up every year at the intersection of Fifth ave and 59th street in Manhattan, just in front of the Plaza Hotel. On a more modest scale is my Chabad community's menorah sponsored by the Chai Center of Short Hills and the Chai Judaica store.
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