Worthy Jewish event, but not on Sabbath
To the editor:
I was glad to see that The Eagle presented Vanessa Hidary, "The Hebrew Mamita," Friday night. I have seen her performance, and think she is a welcome voice as we identify the Jewish community's growing edge in the 21st century. Hidary's show raises an interesting question: What does Jewish look like today? Hidary is helping the American Jewish community come to understand that being Jewish is not all lox, bagels, and other Ashkenazi things. I applaud her for challenging stereotypes.
However, that this event took place publicly on Friday evening ran counter to the Jewish community. "More than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people," said Ahad Ha'am. While we could debate just how observant our Jewish community is of the Sabbath, the value of the Sabbath has always been paramount. The Sabbath is a unifying characteristic of Jewish community. Scheduling Hidary's public performance on Friday evening, when our Sabbath begins, pushes against our values and excludes those within the Jewish community who observe our day of rest.
Gatherings that prompt conversation on Jewish identity are critical in small communities such as ours. And the Sabbath is to be both remembered and protected. Organizations attempting to present discussion about Jewish identity today should be sensitive to the observances that have kept our people unique for centuries.
Rabbi Neil P.G. Hirsch, Great Barrington Rabbi Hirsch is from Hevreh of Southern Berkshire.