Upon receiving the Jewish Standard in the mail this week, I immediately turned to the editorial page to read Rabbi Engelmayer’s or Rabbi Boteach’s column. This week to my surprise instead was an interesting column, “The season after ‘Tis,” by Deena Croog.
The column began with the words “February got shafted and I don’t think that’s very niceâ€¦” She went back to the fests that precede February and some that follow it. She concludes “And then there’s February, the saddest month on the calendarâ€¦”
She continues that February has only Groundhog Day (is this really Jewish?). To my thinking, November is the month known for its lack of Jewish holidays. That was until November 27, 2013, the first day of Chanukah. But we may go further: Thanksgiving is a Jewish holiday. There were Jews (and Marranos) on the Mayflower who escaped persecution and surely celebrated that first Thanksgiving. We may consider Thanksgiving a minor Passover, since it’s also a celebration of freedom. Well, that ends November’s lacking Jewish and Jewish-leaning fests.
I like to dally in logic and love to bring the ridiculous up to the level of the absurd, so I will continue with February.
All months have a Rosh Chodesh (new moon) in both the Hebrew and Julian calendars (perhaps with the very rare exception of February). We celebrate the new moon in February. Also, in two months it will be February 4, 2015, Tu B’shevat, a beautiful celebration of trees, often celebrated with a Tu Bi-Sh’vat seder, a festive meal.
If Ms. Croog can consider such secular holidays as January 1, New Years Day, and July/August-summer vacation in her article, then why not include February 14? Valentines Day is a time to honor your boy/girl friend or spouse. How more Jewish and festive can you get?
Next consider Presidents Week. When I was a child in New York City, we had two one-day holidays: February 12 and February 22, to celebrate two presidents. Jews can be proud of Lincoln and Washington. Now many communities have five-day holidays known as “Presidents,” and schools are closed. (I wonder who the other three presidents are.). Presidents Week is a time for family togetherness. It’s a time to go as a family to visit Israel, go to Disney World or a ski resort, take a cruise or just spend the time together.
So February did not get shafted. In fact, February is rich in a feast of family-oriented celebrations and holidays. What could be better than that?