For many years I heard the legends and lore of Simchat Torah on the Upper West Side. ï¿½Oh, you canï¿½t imagine all the young people. Youï¿½ll have a good time,ï¿½ they said. ï¿½You will find that special someone,ï¿½ they said. I heard about all the singing and dancing with the Torah in the street that it took hold in my imagination to the extent of Field of Dreams. I could almost hear the mantraï¿½ ï¿½Go to the West Sideï¿½Go to the West Side.ï¿½ And so with all of these hopes in mind, since I know live on the West Side, I made it my business to be a participant in the infamous scene. I got hooked up for all my meals in preparation. Boy, was that a disappointment! Someone should have warned me that everything changed since September 11th. They should have told meï¿½because by the end of chag, I felt itï¿½s hopeless. Thatï¿½s a feeling that I really dislike.
Why was I disappointed you ask? Well, itï¿½s a good questionï¿½ No one was dancing in the street. Even at the West Side Institutional Synagogue, which advertised itself as being the only shul to close the streets, they werenï¿½t dancing. Everyone was simply talking, yenting, schmoozing. They were doing everything but dancing around the Torahs. Itï¿½s true that like everyone else I came to socialize as well. I canï¿½t deny that. However, I also wanted to be swept away by the avirah of Simchat Torah, the joyous dancing. For that, the truth is I could have gone to Brooklyn.
I think perhaps if everyone would have done at least dance or sang something I would have enjoyed myself so much better. I wouldnï¿½t have cared as much that I didnï¿½t meet Prince Charming. I would have swept up in all the festivities. The only synagogue that was rocking was Bnei Jeshurun, but thatï¿½s not my kind of festivities. Itï¿½s not my kind of religion, but I respected those congregants for really getting into the holiday.
I want to be able to go to shul and really get into the chag without feeling like itï¿½s a total meat or meet market. There just has to be a better way to do it. I am open for suggestions. For nowï¿½can we get motivated for next Simchat Torah?
About The Author
Sarah J. Pollack is single and living in Manhattan. “Single in the City” is her compilations of the frustrations of Jewish singles in the community.