Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Afghan Jews Make Choice, Juicy Fruits Part Of Their Hakafot Ceremony

Yes, you've dipped apple slices in honey on Rosh Hashanah. Yes, you've decorated your Sukkah with hanging fruits. But fruits as part of the Hakafot on Simhat Torah? Ask Jews of Afghani descent and they'll tell you exactly what to do.

Go to the market the day before Simchat Torah and buy the choicest fruits you can find. Wrap them in silver or gold foil, so that they resemble sweet candies. Place the wrapped fruits around Elijah's chair.

Elijah's Chair? That's right. The same chair normally associated with a Brit Milah is the Afghani focal point for the seven Hakafot. A single Torah scroll is placed on the chair and the Hakafot are performed around it. And the fruit? They are considered "privileged" to be part of the Hakafot. In fact, so special that at the end of Simhat Torah they are auctioned off for considerable sums.

Hmm...that's a new slant on fundraising. Is there a way it can be translated into a classroom setting? I think so. Just like you have a model Seder before Passover, hold model Hakafot using luscious, wrapped fruits for accessories. Have enough for a mid-morning or mid-day snack. Connect each piece of fruit with an act of Tzedakah, and "auction" it off so that the student "winning" the piece of fruit promises to perform the good deed and report about it in class.

Two for the price of one -- Simhat Torah and Jewish values. A lesson plan that truly bears fruit.

Chag Sameach.

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