THE 15TH OF AV: A DAY FOR LOVE AND WHITE DRESSES

By Lisa Sopher

Published August 08, 2003, issue of August 08, 2003.

Just six days after Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av — the day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples — comes the often-overlooked joyous holiday of Tu B’Av, the 15th of Av, which falls this year on the eve of August 12 and the day of August 13.

On this day, according to the Mishna, eligible young maidens dressed themselves in borrowed white dresses — so that no one would stand out by their wealth — and danced in the vineyards. As was the custom, single men would watch, selecting wives from among the girls. The day likely originated as a nature festival on the last day of bringing wood to the Temple altar, according to rabbinic sources. It was also, according to the Talmud, the day that the ban against marrying outside the tribe was lifted. While this holiday had been largely ignored for centuries, in Israel it has become akin to a Jewish Valentine’s Day, when the accepted custom is to send a bouquet of roses to one’s love interest or closest relative. Nowadays, the holiday is making a comeback in some American communities hoping to help singles connect. Here’s a small sampling of Tu B’Av events.

California

Out for Love: Young professionals are invited to a screening of Israeli filmmaker Dan Katzir’s award-winning docudrama “Out for Love… Be Back Shortly” (1999), about a young couple’s quest for love set against the backdrop of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. An open dialogue with Katzir and Rabbi David Wolpe, senior rabbi of Sinai Temple, follows the screening, along with a dessert reception. Temple Sinai, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; Aug. 13, 7 p.m.; $18, $15 members. (310-481-3244 or lklieger@sinaitemple.org)

Florida

Getting Intimate: Couples are invited to sing Israeli love songs, participate in Israeli folk dancing and partake in wine and hors d’oeuvres at the Tu B’Av celebration of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s Israel Program Center. Rabbi Moshe Scheiner of the Palm Beach Orthodox Synagogue talks about “The Seven Levels of Intimacy.” The event also features a raffle. Participants are asked to wear white. Harold and Sylvia Kaplan Jewish Community Center, 3151 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach; Aug. 16, 8:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; $10. (561-478-0700, ext. 177)

Massachusetts

Boat Cruise: Basherte, a nonprofit Jewish organization that strives to bring people together, hosts a Jewish singles riverboat cruise along the French King Gorge. Participants eat cheese and chocolate and drink wine aboard the Quinnetukut II. Northfield Mountain, Route 2 to Route 63 North; Aug. 17, 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., cruise departs 3 p.m.; $5, preregistration preferred. (413-253-5071 or www.basherte.org)

Metropolitan New York

Dating Games: The Carlebach Shul celebrates Tu B’Av with relationship games based on corporate team building, music by singer-songwriter Ira Caplan and his band, Dan Slovin’s Jamprov and arts and crafts with a Tu B’Av twist. Rabbi Naftali Citron, spiritual leader of the synagogue, gives an overview of the holiday. Married couples are welcome, too. The Carlebach Shul, 305 W. 79th St.; Aug. 12, 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. live band, continues until midnight; $10. (212-580-2391 or carlebachshul@juno.com)

Speed Dating: Bangitout.com, a Web site for Jews in Manhattan, hosts its second outdoor Tu B’Av event, where men and women wear name tags and are given dating numbers. Participants fill out dating cards, and if two people write down each other’s dating numbers, Bangitout sets them up. Last year roughly 300 people attended, and one couple who met there later got engaged. Participants are requested to wear white clothing. DJ Arye Dworkin provides music. The Hudson Beach Café, Riverside Park at W. 103rd Street; Aug. 13, 7:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.; $20, plus two free drinks. (www.bangitout.com)

Arts Festival: EndTheMadness, an organization that, according to its Web site, seeks to “combat angst and hardships associated with dating in the religious community,” hosts a Jewish arts festival in honor of Tu B’Av. Amateurs are invited to present G-rated poetry, prose music or other arts. Kol isha is observed. Comedian Jerry Kahn performs stand-up, and refreshments are served. To reserve an open-mike spot, please send an e-mail. Lincoln Square Synagogue, 200 Amsterdam Ave.; Aug. 13, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.; $7, reservations recommended. (212-874-6100 or cweissma@yumail.yu.edu)

On the Rooftop: Young singles celebrate Tu B’Av on the roof of the Edmond Safra Synagogue in the Sephardic Educational Center’s Tu B’Av Extravaganza cocktail party and buffet dinner. Edmond Safra Synagogue, 11 E. 63rd St.; Aug. 14, 7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $20. (917-606-8262 or www.seclovesnewyork.com)

Bookish: Ruchama King reads from her debut novel, “Seven Blessings,” about five expatriates living in contemporary Israel who rely on two Orthodox matchmakers to aid them in finding their perfect matches. Barnes & Noble, Upper West Side, 2289 Broadway; Aug. 13, 7:30 p.m.; free. (212-362-8835)

New Jersey

Special Services: Couples celebrating their 18th, 25th, 36th or 50th anniversary, as well as anniversaries of more than 50 years, are invited to Friday night services to receive a special blessing in honor of the Jewish holiday of love. Temple B’nai Jeshurun, 1025 South Orange Ave., Short Hills; Aug. 15, services 6 p.m.; free. (973-379-1555 or info@tbj.org)



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