The infamous Woodstock Music Festival, which took place in the summer of 1969, was a historic counterculture event in America. Over 500,000 hippies and hippie wannabees crowded a 600-acre farm area in Upstate New York for three days.
Despite romanticized musings of some who are now old enough to know better, the affair was a huge disaster. Toilets, bathing facilities, food and water were in incredibly short supply. Drugs were readily available and abundant. Unrestrained debauchery was the order of the day. Kids overdosed and hurt themselves. In reality it was a reeking, shameful event.
It was with great surprise that I noticed an advertisement in our local Miami Herald. A local synagogue, Temple Israel of Greater Miami, was hyping a “Woodstock Shabbat.” They wished to “Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock,” spun as “the summer of love, peace and rock n’ roll.” Attendees were encouraged to “dust off your bell bottoms and tie dyed shirts.” A festive dessert reception was featured.
There are many anniversaries that would be appropriate for celebration by a Jewish congregation. There are many days and times that deserve recognition and acknowledgement. This is not one of them.
The days before the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah are traditionally used for reflection and soul searching. A “musical service and tribute to Woodstock” seems out of line, especially at this time of year.