Women of Valor

We never celebrated Mother’s Day in my family. In fact, I don’t ever recall it being celebrated in Israel at all.

Seeing all the Facebook posts of my overseas friends with their kids, celebrating Mother’s Day, it made me wonder how it is that we don’t celebrate it in Israel. Maybe it’s on a different date?

So I read up about it on Wikipedia and was stunned to find out that Yom Hamishpacha (Family Day) was supposed to be Mother’s Day in Israel but was renamed Family Day instead. Yom Hamishpacha is on the 30th day of the Jewish month of Shvat, that falls around January or February.

Kinda pissed me off. It sounds like those people who say “I’m not a feminist, I’m an equalist.” Or those who say “All lives matter” in a response to “Black lives matter”. Or those idiots who think we should have a straight pride parade in response to gay pride.

Why generalize? Why not make a day that is special just for mothers like the rest of the world?

At least, when it comes to Father’s Day, in Israel, that was also integrated into Family Day. So there is no difference between mother and father in that case. But it’s still stupid.

As part of my research about Mother’s Day in Israel, I stumbled upon an article about Chag Habanot (The Holiday of Girls). In the article, it says that this day is celebrated across Israel mostly by communities that originated from countries around the Middle East, such as Morocco, where my family is from.

Dudes, I have NEVER heard of this holiday! Why in the hell aren’t we celebrating it more prominently? With all I read about this holiday, it’s probably the most feminist holiday in all of Israel and all of Judaism.

This is what I found out so far:

  • The Holiday of Girls is celebrated on the first day of the month of Tevet, which falls in the week of Hanukkah, and on the darkest night of the year.
  • This holiday celebrates the miraculous power of women: their heroism, their wisdom and their sisterhood throughout the ages.
  • In the past, the first of every month was considered a special day for women, who would light a candle for the rebirth of the moon and keep the holiday as a Sabbath.
  • There is evidence in the scriptures about the cycles of the moon as related to the menstrual cycle of women, which explains the importance of the new month for women.
  • There is a link between this holiday and some prominent women in the scriptures. The first is Judith who lived during the time when the Romans tried to conquer Judea. Judith used her beauty and wisdom to seduce the general of the Roman army, boozed him up and beheaded him, thus saving the Jews and all of Judea. That happened on the eve of the first month of Tevet.
  • Another prominent woman was the Hasmonean sister. During the Greek empire, it was decreed that every newlywed Jewish women would be raped by a bishop on her wedding night. The Hasmonean sister refused the decree. On her wedding night, she went to the king along with her brothers who snuck into the king’s room and killed him. This started the Maccabees’ rebellion against the Greeks.
  • The first of the month of Tevet was also the day when Esther was brought to King Ahasuerus to be crowned as queen. Esther is my personal favorite Jewish heroine. She’s the one who saved the Jews from Haman who wanted to exterminate them. I wish we had an Esther when Hitler was around. She would have given him hell.

There are some more anecdotes and stories of different customs of this holiday within Middle Eastern communities. The first day of the month of Tevet, which falls on the sixth or seventh candle of Hanukkah, is the Holiday of Girls. I wish I could celebrate that holiday in my family. Maybe next Hanukkah, we’ll do something special for my daughter, or something special for my mom, or maybe I’ll do something special for myself. As there is no Mother’s Day in Israel per se, I want the Holiday of Girls to be the one we celebrate. Compared to Mother’s Day, Chag Habanot seems to be much more special, much more feminist and much more Jewish. I fucking LOVE it!

Peace, love and Shebrew forever!

One thought on “Women of Valor

  1. Pingback: The Jewish Women’s Day | ♀ Riot Grrrl ♀ בישראל

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s