Sadly, between Shavuot (May 15) and Rosh Hashanah (September 5) there is a shortage of Jewish holidays. Sure, there’s Tisha B’Av (July 15), a day to recall the destruction of the First and Second Temples and other Jewish tragedies. But who wants to throw a party on a fast day? Tu B’Av, the Israeli equivalent of Valentine’s Day, comes soon after (July 21). But outside of Israel, it’s a minor festival. And what if you’re single?
We Jews like having a holiday every few weeks or so. It gives us an excuse to get together, shmooze and overeat. (And while we love the Fourth of July, kosher hotdogs do not a Jewish holiday make.) In the name of anthropological research, we dug into the vault and uncovered a few unknown holidays observed by Jewish suburbanites around the country.
Won’t you join us in celebrating this summer? We will whip up an apple cake and set the table for 10.
Rosh To Barbecue
This festival celebrates the first evening you light the barbecue and decide it’s warm enough to eat dinner on the deck. Preparations for this holiday include scraping last year’s schmutz off the grill, sending someone to get the propane tank filled and stocking up on paper plates. Guests may come, bringing offerings of pasta salad and fruit pie. Although a menorah is not necessary, it is customary to kindle the citronella lights. This year, the holiday ritual of “swatting the mosquitoes” is being replaced by the “dodging of the cicadas.” On the Jewish calendar, 5773 is the year of return in their 17-year cycle. In your siddur on Rosh To Barbecue, read the alternative section, in red.
The day when you pull on your bathing suit for the first time. It’s a hot day and you’ve been invited to a friend’s backyard pool, but your thighs are still large and white and dimpled as a pulke, or chicken thigh. (Even when your thighs are nice and tan, they will continue to be large and dimpled.) This little-known day of mourning — it’s nothing compared with Tisha B’Av — is primarily celebrated by women ages 35-65. Some choose to fast on this day, but that won’t help.