Sunday, October 16, 2011

I'm On My Way to See the Largest Simhat Torah Flag

Shalom Girls & Boys:
It's Rally Round the Flag time. The Simhat Torah flag. We're all going to dance and sing, and wave our flags. But first I'm flying over to the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv where they have a really cool exhibit of Simhat Torah flags through the ages. The coolest flag of all is the largest Simhat Torah flag ever.

This got me thinking: How and when did we Jews start the custom of making special Simhat Torah flags to hand out to kids like you and me, so that we can march (or fly) around the synagogue with them? Sometimes I can be serious (not often, it's bad for my image), so I did a little research and here's what I discovered. The tradition of making flags goes all the way back to 17th Century Ashkenaz, which was in Eastern Europe. I even found sample flags. Maybe they'll be some of the flags I'll see today!

I must be getting really serious (Oh, oh, time to take my temperature!). I even found a historian at Tel Aviv University named Dr. Chaim Grossman who researched Simhat Torah flags. He says the flags created in Ashkenaz were made out of such thin paper that there was no way kids like you and me were going to take good care of them. So sorry, there are no flags going allll the way back. Dr. Grossman also doesn't know exactly how the custom began, but he thinks it was probably taken from a different culture.

So, you know what I did? I looked up the history of flags.  I gotta be honest. It just wasn't fun enough. So I found something better. How to make a Simhat Torah flag  and a Youtube clip of Simhat Torah in Israel.

Gotta go. But first a quick quiz: what flies? Answer: Simhat Torah flags and Zvuvi.

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