How I’m Spending My (Modern Jewish) Holidays, 5780/2020

Yesterday was Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and civilian victims of terrorism. Swiftly on its heels, today brings Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. (Learn a bit more about them here.) And this year, as you might expect, there are many, many ways to observe online.

Israeli flag
Image by dror lahat from Pixabay

It’s impossible to do—or even list—everything that’s out there. I’m just going to share with you a few events that I’ve attended/plan to attend this year.

Yesterday, for Yom HaZikaron, I logged into a session on “The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai: Themes of War and Remembrance,” hosted by My Jewish Learning and led by Rabbi Elliot Goldberg. The session featured reading and discussion of three Amichai poems: “The Diameter of the Bomb” (trans. Chana Bloch); “God Full of Mercy” (trans. Barbara and Benjamin Harshav); and “An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion” (trans. Chana Bloch). (By the way, My Jewish Learning alone is offering multiple online events each and every day. Here’s the schedule.)

Then, last night, three local synagogues—all of which I’ve visited for services and other events—joined in for a collective Tekes Ma’avar, the transition ceremony between two Israeli holidays. I tuned in live, but you can catch the archived recording.

Today, I could spend the entire day online in Jewish learning and/or celebration. But I’m trying to control myself. Admittedly, not everything I’m sharing here is holiday-related (and I’ll try to make that clear as I share the list). Again, though—it’s truly an embarrassment of enrichment, one of the silver linings of this adjusted reality that so many of us are experiencing these days. Surely, something is likely to appeal to you, too. And, except as noted, everything is free.

  • Starting at 10:00 am (New York time) and lasting 12 hours: the Israel Story podcast presents IsraPalooza. “We’ll explore different sides of Israel and Israeli culture. We’ll have a session with world-famous violinist Itzhak Perlman, a live concert with David Broza, talks with ‘starchitect’ Moshe Safdie, cookbook author and food anthropologist Joan Nathan, the inventor of the modern day firewall Gil Shwed, trailblazing Arab-Israeli news anchor Lucy Aharish, a family-friendly self-portrait workshop with artist Hanoch Piven, a shakshuka cooking class with celebrity chef Nir Mesika and much more!” (Note: Suggested donations begin at $18.)
  • I don’t live in Israel, but I do receive emails from the Israel Association of Writers in English. And I took note of this one: “In spite of all the craziness around us, we will be publishing arc 27 — the 2020 edition of our literary journal, which will lift all our spirits with an amazing collection of poems and prose.This year’s arc was masterfully edited by Ed Codish and Ronitte Friedman. The theme is Time, very appropriate as we all wait impatiently for the time when familiar routine will resume.  Please join us on Zoom for a virtual launch with readings by contributors, on April 29th (Yom Ha’Atzmaut) at 7:00 p.m. [ED note: that’s 7:00 pm Israel time—noon for me in New York.] Printed copies of the issue will be available only after the wheels of industry are turning more normally. Click here to register. The evening will be emceed by our Chairperson Karen Alkalay Gut and hosted by Michael Kagan.”
  • But I’ll have to leave the IAWE event for another one that begins 30 minutes later: a Jewish Book Council “Authors at the Table” Live Chat with my friend Anna Solomon about Anna’s soon-to-be-published novel The Book of V. (This is one of those events that isn’t pegged to Yom HaAtzmaut—but who knows which topics may come up in discussion?)
  • At 1:45 pm, the Worldwide Celebration of Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America, will begin.
  • At 2:00 pm, and not connected with the holiday in any way, the 14th Street Y will spotlight Shtumer Shabes (Silent Sabbath), the new play by another of my literary pals, LABA Fellow Rokhl Kafrissen. “It’s a show about Yiddish theater, human experimentation, and making art in the most difficult times. In other words, a comedy. Cast members Caraid O’Brien, Dylan Seders Hoffman and Max Roll will perform short excerpts from the play, set in the early 2000s East Village and 1930s Warsaw. Then Rokhl and director Aaron Beall will join special guests in conversation about the unique people and places which inspired the show. (This will happen on Facebook Live, on the page of the 14th Street Y.)

And, then, I think, I may need a nap! (Or maybe, I’ll try to watch another couple of episodes of Fauda, S3. I’m up to the fifth episode. No spoilers, please!)

Israeli flag

2 thoughts on “How I’m Spending My (Modern Jewish) Holidays, 5780/2020

  1. Judith Mesch says:

    Great success in all of the above, Erika. You clearly invest your heart.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thank you for that lovely comment!

Comments are closed.