NEW YORK (JTA) — Marijuana entrepreneur Catherine Goldberg was working on an event with the Orthodox founders of Mitzva Herbal, a company that makes kosher-certified cannabis-infused edibles, when she shared her dream of uniting marijuana-loving Jews over Friday-night dinners.
“They were, like, ‘Cat, we can’t smoke on Shabbat,” Goldberg, 28, recalled. “So I figured havdalah, instead, was perfect.”
Thus “Chai Havdalah” — in which “chai” is pronounced “high” — was born.
Since July it has become a somewhat regular event, advertised by word of mouth, that marks the end of Shabbat with the traditional havdalah blessing alongside the less traditional acts of smoking marijuana and eating cannabis-infused edibles.
So far there have been five Chai Havdalah events, mostly in the herb-friendly states of California and Colorado. But last weekend, on the second floor of a brownstone in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, about three dozen people gathered to smoke pot, listen to the sounds of a local hip-hop duo, bid farewell to Shabbat and usher in a new week.
“I love being Jewish and I love weed, so it made sense to bring my two passions together,” Goldberg said on Saturday night, wearing a shirt with the words “Let’s Get Chai.” “I wanted to show people that Judaism can be really fun and it doesn’t mean you have to go to temple.”