Culture, Mishegas, Religion

Moadim l'simcha!

Posting seems slow this week, perhaps because it’s chol hamoed Sukkot, the middle part of the holiday when halakha permits working but still demands lulav-waving and sukkah-dwelling. Not wanting to leave our dear readers out in the cold (no pun intended), I asked Dr. Google about interesting chol hamoed customs that might inspire a post.
There just aren't a lot of options for pictures of Jewish clowns.Dr. Google did not disappoint. One of the first links I found was to this entry from the Jewish Virtual Library, which tells me

On Chol Hamoed many Orthodox families go to amusement parks, the circus, the zoo, and engage in other recreational activities with friends to celebrate Passover or Sukkot.

Let me go on record as being deeply disappointed with my previous 31 years of Jewish education for not having taught me this.
Curious, I asked Dr. Google to tell me more about this circus-on-Chol Hamoed tradition. (I have a particular fascination with the circus, having played the Ringmaster and James Bailey in my high school production of Barnum.)
First, I discovered, a project of bringing together information and ticket deals for all sorts of festive events during this week, tailored to an Orthodox crowd, including…
Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus featuring “A Poshiter Guest Performer” (a “Poshiter Yid” is a “simple Jew” in Yiddish) as well as “No Live Singing” (presumably to save us from the threat of Kol Isha).
Apparently, the circus has been doing these especially-frummy shows during Chol Hamoed since 2004. There’s even a DVD available from a previous Pesach performance with Uncle Moishy and the Yeshiva Boys Choir:

And now that I know about this, my plan to hit up the theme parks during Pesach seems not only practical, but downright religious. And knowing is half the battle.

4 thoughts on “Moadim l'simcha!

  1. I know a lot of people who take their kids to amusement parks and carnivals during chol hamoed. It’s partly just that a lot of schools are out and a lot of people take off work so it’s one of the few times when families are together and it’s NOT a yuntif so people CAN go places together. I mean think about it, throughout the year usually it’s only Sundays that families have any chance of being together *and* being able to do something like go to a circus. Cuz due to shabbos we don’t even get a real 2-day weekend in the secular sense where you have two days to travel, go to the park, shop, etc.

  2. On the other hand, Rabbi Dr. Alan Brill cautions that traditional Sukkot ideas argue against going to the circus. He quotes:

    The festivals make a difference between the nations and Israel: the nations eat and drink, and go to the circus and the theater, and anger the Lord by their words and deeds; Israel eats and drinks and goes to the houses of prayer to praise His name and to the houses of study to learn His glory. Pesikta 340-1

    His whole post on Sukkot then and now is worth a read.

  3. The NYTimes did a story a few years ago about a special “kosher for Passover” Chol Hamoed performance of the Ringing Brothers circus at Madison Square Garden.
    And a couple years ago an Orthodox neighbor came into our apartment building’s sukkah looking a bit under the weather. My wife asked her if she was okay and she said her family had gone deep sea fishing for the day, and she was never going on a boat again. Ha.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.