How to bind the community with Broiges UK

November 24, 2016 23:22

There's a misshapen challah in the top drawer of my freezer which could easily be mistaken for a draft excluder. Despite being given instructions at the recent Manchester challah bake, I've not been blessed with the Mary Berry gene.

Still, this lamentably undercooked splodge endures as a reminder of one of the key dates in the Jewish calendar - Shabbat UK - a project with the intended aim of bringing people together to celebrate the joy of Shabbat. Whether such an initiative has left its footprint is difficult to know. Taking a straw poll among friends who love chopped liver on a Friday night and Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, there don't appear to be many who have been spiritually rewired.

Meanwhile, one can only wonder how much of an enduring impact last week's Mitzvah Day will have on the 37,000 people who took part in what the organisers described as ''collective, hands-on social action projects which make a real difference to local issues.'' Again, no question of the wonderful work done in its name. But does Mitzvah Day turn men into mensches?

Which leads me to believe that lying somewhere between Mitzvah Day and Shabbat UK lies a chasm waiting to be filled. One that I feel can only be addressed by the introduction of another seminal date in the calendar. Broiges UK Day.

Baking bread and helping in the community is all well and good. But is anything more important than the way man treats his fellow man. After all, as the Torah says, there's no point in asking forgiveness of our Creator if we don't demand it of our peers. And that's what Broiges UK Day would address.

Imagine how cathartic it would be to end our feuds

Broiges is a Yiddish term used to describe an inexpressible, unresolvable fall-out. One which usually originates from some fairly innocent misunderstanding. Indeed, its etymological root lies in the Hebrew b'rogez "b'" meaning "in," and rogez means "agitation, anxiety".

Yet it's more than that, since broiges cooks up a whole world of meaning and applies to a multitude of situations - from the flippancy of a family disagreement (I have a friend who is broiges with her cousin because she never told her she had a new job) to a gorgeous understatement referring to cataclysmic events (as another friend remarked recently ''we're all done for if Russia gets broiges with Turkey'').

Broiges UK Day is unlikely to be embraced by Putin. But wouldn't it be remarkable to have pause in our calendar for an amnesty on all fallings-out.

This is more than pre-Yom Kippur forgiveness, when many of us tend to focus on the big stuff. We're talking about the nuts and bolts of human disagreement - however trivial.

Broiges UK Day would willingly offer absolution from every wilful, bitchy, difficult situation.

What's more, it could accomplish so much more than Shabbat UK or Mitzvah Day. Both, though laudable, sometimes play to a certain demographic. Namely, the often pleased-with-themselves frummers who think that big sheitls and conspicuous practice of Jewish religion makes them a better person.

Who are they compared to the people I know who, though not even slightly religious, have hearts made of the heaviest types of gold.

Women and men who would do absolutely anything for anyone without any thought for glory or recognition. They are simply, as the Yiddish puts it, gute neshomes, or good souls. There's so much which could be achieved on Broiges UK Day. A chance for everyone (and I include myself) to raise our hands and say ''it's stupid! This has gone on for too long. Let's get over it.'' I would love it if the woman who once tried to get me booted off a charity committee (and who ended up shaming herself) came to me and expressed deep regret at her actions. That way I'd no longer have to imagine I'd just spotted a mark on the pavement every time we pass by.

I don't expect Broiges UK Day will put an end to all arguments. Indeed, if Broiges UK Day is to become an annual stock-take of cumulative grievances then there's the small matter of needing broigeses to fuel the arrangement.

But then I remember reading the words of Hymie and Rosie Pittal, one of Britain's longest-married couples, who celebrated their 70th anniversary in the summer, after marrying at Great Garden Street Synagogue in 1946. They said at the time that having a good argument every day is the secret to married bliss - along with "lots of laughs, kissing and making up".

With such validation, I await news that Broiges UK Day has been formally inducted on to the Jewish calendar by the office of the Chief Rabbi. And if it doesn't happen? Well, Rabbi Mirvis, I could get really upset with you…

November 24, 2016 23:22

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