Monday, October 04, 2004

Who stole Simchat Torah?

As a kid growing up in Golders Green (London), I have many wonderful memories of Simchat Torah. I admit I am going back several decades. But in recent years I, and a growing number of my middle-aged friends, have simply stayed at home over Simchat Torah, and I am afraid that I will do the same this year. Simchat Torah has become a poor imitation of Purim in too many places. It seems to have too little real religious 'Simchah', and not a deal of meaningful 'Torah'. It is wild, and it is, I am sad to say, in many places, tied in with alcohol. Alcohol abuse is a growing problem in our community. In my shul, there are notices printed in the shul bulletin warning that the shul has a 'no tolerance' policy for under-age drinkers on Simchat Torah. But every single week, a procession of shul leaders walk out in the middle of davvening on Shabbat morning to go to 'Kiddush club'. What sort of role-modelling is that? I think the time has come to consider making all shuls teetotal.

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