May 25, 2012
This is most definitely a holiday weekend, but, depending on who you are and what your lifestyle is, the holiday will be completely different.
Uniquely, this is one of the rare occurrences when the three-day Memorial Day weekend completely overlaps with the Jewish Sabbath and the two-day holiday of Shavuot – the Festival of Weeks. (Because it takes place seven weeks after Passover). This coincidence of the calendar means that many people in our community will not be celebrating Memorial Day in the typical sense, i.e., backyards, beaches and barbeques but will instead be immersed in what religiously observant Jews call a “three-day yom tov,” or holiday, which means three mornings and four evenings of synagogue attendance and no steaks sizzling on the barbie as the cuisine for Shavuot is decidedly dairy. This sets-up the kind of holiday divergence usually seen between Christmas and Chanukah and Passover and Easter but even more so in that some people have a religious observance and some people will just be kicking-back poolside.
For the fervently Orthodox this coincidence poses no dilemma whatsoever. For many in the Modern Orthodox community there is an undercurrent of angst and dissonance inasmuch as there’s a palpable sense of loss involved – the loss of vacation days and of the opportunity to just have a few days off with few obligations. While nearly all Modern Orthodox will keep Shavuot and block the beach from their minds, in the days leading up to this weekend we heard quite a bit of tooth-gnashing and grinding about it. Many non-Jews and non-Orthodox don’t understand that there’s hardly anything relaxing or restful about three-day Jewish holidays complete with prayer and food-a-thons, irrespective of how meaningful or important they are spiritually. In Hebrew, the word for “service” (as in “services”) is “Avoda,” which also is the same Hebrew word for “work.” It’s not a day at the beach – literally. Suits and ties and high heels (separately for men and women) for three days are not days off. Come Tuesday morning, most of our Orthodox residents will shlep back to work without the benefit of any vacation time but they will have benefited from the uplift of commemorating the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and the privilege of passing this heritage on to their children, which is why they’ll be in synagogue.
For those not observing Shavuot – we heartily urge you to make an effort to attend one of the two Memorial Day parades in our community – there’s the Inwood event on Sunday and the Lawrence-Cedarhurst parade on Monday. See our “Top Picks” section on Page B4 for more information.
Freedom is not free and far too many have paid the ultimate price to secure our lives and liberty. Saluting those who gave their lives and honoring the veterans – those who served, is a civic duty. It’s good to bring down your kids, it teaches patriotism and children always love a parade. Alas, for the second year in a row, there’ll not be a Hewlett-Woodmere parade. Broadway in Woodmere, bereft as it is of business will now also again be denied any patriotic hoopla.
As we said in this space last year at this time, why we have two and in the past had three separate parades makes no sense. We should stage one big grand Five Towns parade starting at the VFW in Inwood, progressing through Central Avenue in Lawrence and Cedarhurst and then moving through Broadway in Woodmere and Hewlett or starting in Hewlett and ending in Inwood – the direction doesn’t matter much. What matters should be the scale and scope of the parade. A regional event will draw more marching bands, more veterans, more participants including all the fire departments, more spectators and even, yes, more politicians. A large parade could attract local corporate sponsors to underwrite the festivities. We need to have one united Five Towns parade. We call on the leaders in Inwood, the village governments in Lawrence and Cedarhurst and the business associations and fire departments in Woodmere and Hewlett to all get together in a room somewhere and join forces to make a really spectacular event. This shouldn’t be about turf or control – this should be about honoring our brave fallen heroes and surviving veterans in the best possible way.
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