As a certified IJR (Investigative Jewish Reporter*), I feel it is my duty – nay, my very calling, to not only use the word "nay" at least once in each of my reports, but also to seek out and present to my beloved readers previously unknown aspects of the Judaic world and culture. This month, being an important month for the "high" holidays, I have decided to uncover a story about some very "low" holidays my loyal readers may not know about. Of course, we are all aware of the deep spiritual significance of our calendar and each divinely enacted holiday. But what you may not know is that over the years, a sinister group of Jewish bandits has attempted to implement "lowlidays" (as I like to call them) of their own. Thankfully, they never caught on.
Over the years, a sinister group of Jewish bandits has attempted to implement "lowlidays."
Through a tip from one of my secret sources who goes only by the name Deep Kishka, I found out about these evil doers, or as they call themselves, the Institute of Jewish Holiday Creation (IJHC). Although it is located in Brooklyn, New York, and I live in Los Angeles, Jewlarious.com generously offered to pay for my trip there to visit the secretive organization. Granted, they only sprang for bus tickets and so it took several days to arrive – which is no picnic when you're seated between a colicky baby and man who hasn't bathed in a month because he believes the world is about to end so what's the use? But the food allowance Jewlarious provided – a bag of matzo and hard boiled eggs -- was tasty and we finally arrived in Brooklyn. Of course, my room at the youth hostel wasn't ready when I arrived, so I had the opportunity to bond with several gang members outside while waiting.
I'd like to tell you that the IJHC headquarters is a gleaming, modern, state-of-the-art corporate complex taking up three city blocks. And so I will. But for those of you who demand actual facts, it's a small, dark apartment in an aging brick building. The two and only employees are Sy and Heshie Blomberg, ages 81 and 78 respectively. The Blomberg brothers, as did generations of their fellow IJHC workers before them, spend their days scheming and trying to invent new Jewish holidays. "Some of them actually catch on and last for centuries, as you know," states Heshie. "Others, we can't give away," adds Sy.
At first, Sy and Heshie were reluctant to comply with my request for them to reveal some of the Jewish holidays that never caught on. "It's an embarrassment," admitted Heshie. "Sometimes, we look back at them and say, ‘What were we thinking?'" Admitted Sy, "We were probably having a bit too much of the Manishevitz." But finally, after I agreed to ask their grand-daughter, Estelle, out on a date, the Blombergs loosened up a bit and shared with me a sampling of the Jewish holidays that, for one reason or another, just never caught on.
Pays tribute to a brave band of 4th Century Jews who would climb up into trees, camouflaging themselves by affixing leaves to their clothing, and then drop down upon their oppressors when they came riding by, steal their horses, and then gallop away, giggling and singing "Dayenu." The fact that they were always captured, horse-whipped and jailed, does not take away from the creativity and bravery of these men. The holiday lasted for three years in the mid 1950s.
Celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from centuries of gastrointestinal difficulties resulting from Jewish food and general tsuris. No surprise, then, that a Jew would develop the gas-neutralizing product, Beano. Beano was developed in 1990 by Alan Kligerman of AkPharma after research into gas-causing vegetables that had begun in 1981. Kligerman also developed Lactaid, the milk for the lactose-intolerant.
Shavuot marks the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The Ten Commandments are read in synagogues just as they were in the desert on Mt. Sinai over 3,300 years ago. In contrast, Shove-vuot is the one day each year during which it is not only okay but also encouraged to shove your Jewish friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. Not only is Shove-vuot a great stress-reliever, but it also gets people to touch one another, a connection missing from much of our contemporary lives. The holiday lasted for two years during the early seventies, then came to a screeching halt as a result of a half-dozen lawsuits from those who were somehow offended by this holiday.
Rosh Sha Na Na
"Rosh" means head and "Sha Na Na" is a rock ‘n roll tribute band for 1950s rock. So, Rosh Sha Na Na was a holiday paying tribute to the head of this band, for his willingness to adapt these beloved songs to Jewish sensibilities. For three years, Jewish music lovers enjoyed the band performing, "You Ain't Nothin' But a Challa," "Save the Last Creplach For Me," "Yitzchak B. Goode," "I Only Have Gelt For You," and "Nag Around the Clock." Then, the Lutherans made the band a better deal and we lost them.
As I returned from IJHC headquarters and picked up my weapons before returning to the Hostel in the Hood, I couldn't help but be thankful for the real (and wonderful) holidays we Jews have. I was not however thankful for my impending date with Estelle. Not only was it the worst date I've ever been on, but she invited me to celebrate Gassover with her family.