So the Chief Rabbi has moved Shabbat UK from its well-accustomed post-chagim slot to the first week of March. And like many traditionalists I am not entirely happy with the change. Just as non-Jews would feel strange drinking mulled wine and eating mince pies in June, I can’t quite imagine going to a sushi and shots kiddush and watching Mill Hill Synagogue’s annual music video when the days are getting longer rather than shorter.
However, as I thought about it some more, two important points occurred to me. Firstly, my reactionary stance is probably misplaced since the October Shabbat UK is a relatively new innovation. Before Hillel II fixed the Jewish calendar in the fourth century, British Jews had no idea when Shabbat UK was coming. It was only pronounced when two witnesses appeared before the Beth Din to testify that they had seen the Shabbat UK ice cream van approaching from the east.
Secondly, it struck me that if the Chief Rabbi has the authority to uproot one of our festivals, then he could do it for all of them. In fact I have a wishlist to present to the Chief Rabbi that I think would improve all our lives.
First, there are many “twice-a-year” Jews who have to come to shul two weeks running on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This feels cruel. Let’s move Yom Kippur to March so they get half the year off. That said, the greeting would have to change to “Happy New Year and well over the fast in six months’ time”.
Next, shorten Chanukah to two days. For some mad reason our children expect presents each day and for some even madder reason we have six children. I have to sell a lot of tickets to buy 48 presents. I’m happy to have two days because we can at least still tell the children they are better off doing Chanukah than Christmas, but let’s leave it there.
Cancel Purim altogether. We don’t need a day when people who aren’t comedians try to be funny. Leave it to the professionals. We don’t have a day when people go “I think I’ll service my own car”. Stop trying to be funny and pay me to do it instead, please.
And finally, make Pesach every four years. Surely I don’t even need to explain why. It could be like the Olympics or World Cup with different family members bidding to host the next seder in four years time. Actually thinking about it, the 2022 World Cup is going to be in the winter so if FIFA can make that change, I don’t think this is too much to ask of the Chief Rabbi.
Ashley Blaker’s stand-up show Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Judaism is at Soho Theatre on January 22 and 23. www. sohotheatre.com