Jacob Goode's Bar Mitzvah

JacobGoodeI’m Jacob Goode, a seventh grader at Claire Lilienthal in San Francisco. I enjoy learning, playing baseball and golf, watching the Giants and Warriors, hanging out with my friends and playing video games, and traveling the world with my family. In fact, my family and I have recently returned from a trip to Israel, which has helped put my bar mitzvah in perspective. I have a greater appreciation for our long history.

I am very excited that this Shabbat is my bar mitzvah. This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Emor. The text outlines the Jewish festivals, holy days, and some of the Jewish laws and rituals. Parashat Emor concludes by describing an incident in which a man is accused of blasphemy. The text then provides the principle of lex talionis, "ayin tachat ayin, shein tachat shein" (literally, an "eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth"). I’m looking forward to sharing this day with friends, family, and members of the community, whom I hope shall end Shabbat with good sight and fully dentured.

I’d like to thank my amazing tutor, Noa, who helped me learn this week’s haftarah, the maftir for this week’s Torah portion, the blessings before and after the readings, and the Torah service in such a short time. I’d also like to thank our B'nai Mitzvah Chavurah for their support and friendship. I’d like to thank Rabbis Glazer and Hyman, and my CBS Shabbat School teacher, Elizabeth Andrews. And a very special thanks to my family (the Chikhanis and the Goodes), for being there every step of the way, for always supporting me, encouraging me, and schlepping me to where I wanted to be.

Kezayit (An Olive's Worth): A Proper Purim Greeting

Purim is almost here! It won't be long before we're masked, spieling, ring tossing, and bottoms upping! Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 12, 2017, when our PURIMPALOOZA: Community Purim Carnival & Spiel To Support CBS Educational Programs will take place!

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According to Wikipedia, Quora, and just about any website we could find, there are three traditional Purim salutations: "Chag Purim Sameach!" ("Happy Purim Festival/Holiday!" in Hebrew); "Freilichin Purim!" ("Happy Purim!" in Yiddish); and "Purim Allegre!" ("Happy Purim!" in Ladino). Indeed, when you've come to CBS Purim carnivals and megillah readings in past years, it's a sure thing you were welcomed with one of those greetings.

The thing of it is, "Chag Purim Sameach!" ain't exactly exact. Although the greeting is widely used and accepted, Purim isn't technically a festival, or chag. The only chagim we observe are the Yom Tovim, the six Biblically-mandated festivals: the first and seventh days of Pesach (Passover), the first day of Shavuot, both days of Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Sukkot, the first day of Shemini Atzeret, and Yom Kippur. In the Diaspora, the redundant, second-day iterations of some of these are also considered Yom Tovim or chagim. Purim is notably absent from the list. Somewhere along the line (l'dor va'dor -- generation to generation), however, the greeting that should be reserved for true chagim was also attached to Hanukkah and Purim.

In a recent discussion with Rabbi Glazer, your CBS Communications Coordinator learned of a more appropriate greeting for Purim, one you might consider using this year. "V’nahafokh hu!" ("We shall invert things!") Rabbi Glazer explained that this greeting, which is drawn from two verses in the megillah (Esther 9:1 and 9:22), is the most incisive option. It speaks to Purim's most significant theme, namely that "everything should be inverted in a cruel and broken world, leaving only compassion and random acts of selfless lovingkindness."

Rabbi Julia Andelman (of the Jewish Theological Seminary) breaks things down further in a 2014 article:

"Purim is a holiday of reversals—written into the megillah itself. Haman creates an elaborate ritual by which the king should honor him, but his enemy Mordechai is honored with that same ritual instead. The gallows Haman builds for Mordechai end up being the instrument of his own death. And the fate of a nation changes from doom to victory in the blink of an eye: 'And so, on the 13th day of the 12th month—that is, the month of Adar—when the king’s demand and decree were to be executed, the very day on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to get them in their power, v’nahafokh hu — the situation was reversed—and the Jews got their enemies in their power instead' (Esther 9:1). Reversals of fortune, narratives doubling back on themselves in opposing incarnations, are to be found everywhere in the Book of Esther; and so the theme of a holiday — v’nahafokh hu — is born. Cross-dressing, inebriation, public parodies of teachers and friends—all of these traditionally questionable or forbidden boundary crossings are sanctioned and even celebrated on this one day of the year when norms are freely reversed."

This year, let's turn things upside down and shake out what's broken or cruel. V’nahafokh hu!