Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Scottish Shabbes Bride visits on Shabbat Hogmanay

On Kabbalat Shabbat, New Year's Eve, I shared some of my Scottish heritage with the congregation.  Yearning for some of the traditions that I grew up with (primarily enjoying a dram of whiskey, eating shortbread, and watching the Hogmanay celebrations on BBC Scotland), we welcomed in the Scottish Shabbes Bride to the strains of Scotland the Brave, and closed out the service with Adon Olam sung to Auld Lang Syne.  Adorned with a Scottish bunnet and a tartan tallit, my intention was primarily to bring some of the joy and celebratory mood of the night and to weave it into our Shabbes prayers.

Hogmanay is the name given to New Year's Eve in Scotland.  No-one is quite sure of the origin of the name or its meaning - Wikipedia and other sources will share several theories about multiple linguistic roots.  Not to be found among them, but quite tempting as a valid possibility, is the Hebrew 'Chag haMonnaie' - the Festival of Counting.  Our Scottish Shabbes Bride was our 'First Footer' of the evening.  While usually referring to the first person to cross the threshold of a neighbor after midnight, bearing whiskey, shortbread, a lump of coal and some salt, ours was the first to cross our threshold after we lit Shabbes candles.  She entered in style and serenaded us, quite literally.

For a number of years, one of the highlights of the televised Hogmanay specials in Scotland was a short segment toward the end of the evening featuring a special message from a Presbyterian minister of some repute - the Rev. I.M. Jolly.  While I could scarcely do justice to the joyful message that Rev. Jolly would share each year, I did my best to replicate his style and content.  But for many congregants who wanted more, I present to you here, below, the original Rev. I.M. Jolly.
Wishing you all blessings, good health, and much happiness and joy in 2011.
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz

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