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Teen Talk: Linked Together

Chaya Hudy Moskovits

Why would anyone trade hats with a total stranger and dance up a storm without being otherwise acquainted?

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

Despite the nip in the air, warmth seeped through my bones. Men of all kinds danced together as one, their faces wreathed with the glow of pleasure permeating the air at the Simchas Beis Hashoeivah. 

We are all united, I mused. Like a nation with one soul, we are all connected to one another. There isn’t another nationality that is as unified as ours, I concluded with pride. 

It was a beautiful Chol Hamoed evening in September, 2014. The sun had set and left in its wake a star-studded, velvety sky. Throngs of people, young and old, rushed toward the faint music that drifted from the distant speakers near the stage. “Vesamachta b’chagecha…” floated along with the gentle evening breeze. With heartwarming anticipation, we walked to the beat toward the ever-increasing volume of the melody. 

“Mommy, are we there yet?” Chana Yitty, my almost-11-year-old sister, asked excitedly. 

“Almost. See, we’re on 49th Street, and the Simchas Beis Hashoeivah is on 47th Street. Two more blocks,” was my mother’s happy reply. She, too, was caught up in the fervor.

Photo: Shutterstock

Nearing the corner of 13th Avenue and 47th Street, I blended in with spectators vying for a good view of the stage. Workers buzzed back and forth across the platform like excited bees, putting finishing touches on the stage for the upcoming concert. Children of all ages, some of whom would have most likely been fast asleep at this late hour, climbed upon the barriers, eagerly waiting for the show to begin. Fathers carried their little sons on their shoulders, giving them a bird’s-eye view of the soon-to-begin performance. 

A new melody, “Toras Hashem Temimah,” reverberated as the viewing screen came to life and the singer began the show. Men and boys clasped hands and with electric energy that could never be extinguished, formed ring after ring, circle after circle of elated dancing that spread across the avenue. A festive spirit infused the air as they celebrated with purity and vitality. 

These men must all know each other if they are holding hands so warmly, I thought as they twirled around in dizzying speed. They formed ever-growing circles like ripples in a pond, each encircling each other. 

My reflections were jarringly interrupted by the kvetching of my younger sister. “I can’t see! I’m missing everything! These people are all a million feet tall!” Chana Yitty complained, tugging at my jacket sleeve while unsuccessfully trying to balance on tiptoes. 

“Oh, my! Look over there in the center circle!” I pointed out animatedly, gazing raptly as the scene unfolded before my eyes. Two men in the middle ring exchanged their hats jovially, a chassidishe shtreimel for a litvisher Borsalino. 

“Why would anyone trade hats with a total stranger and dance up a storm without being otherwise acquainted?” I said quietly with an amused smile tugging at my lips.

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