No White After Labor Day, No Black After Memorial Day

These were the fashion rules my mother z’l insisted on during my childhood. And not just my mother but any well-groomed (her word) American woman from the 1930s to the ends of their lives imparted this wisdom to their daughters – whether we accepted this or not. This mantra has played in my head ever since as these Fall and Spring dates arrive each year. Arbitrary as they are, I often question if, living in South Florida or Israel, I can flaunt this code of acceptable fashion.  In fact there are times that I wonder what my mother z’l is thinking from Above as she sees me putting on my favorite white shoes or dress or skirt. “The Times They Are A-Changing,” as Bob Dylan taught us in 1995. Yet Bob Dylan didn’t live in my house and even if he had (Robert Zimmerman!), boys and men were subject to these same rules.

Yet I was also raised to recognize the change of seasons by the Jewish calendar – and fashion is also connected in this time frame. During the month of Elul (August/September) my parents z’l would shop with my brother and I for new Rosh Hashanah clothes so that we could say the She’hechiyanu blessing, thanking God as we wore them for the first time for High Holiday Services. Our parents made sure that we wore new sneakers (“gym shoes” for Chicagoans) on Yom Kippur.  By the time Shavuot arrived (May/June) we were buying white clothes once again.

I doubt my children ever heard me suggest what colors to wear when and if I had I’m sure they would have erupted into hysterical laughter. Yet I know they hold to the Jewish Calendar fashion changes.

So on this Labor Day, awaiting Tropical Storm/Hurricane Dorian, I have the luxury of time to recall these memories within a Jewish context. May we all have a safe, sweet and Peaceful New Year and may Dorian not cause more destruction beyond what it’s already done.

About the Author
Melinda/Malka is a Jewish Educator, with a focus on Israel and Holocaust Education. She has worked in formal and informal settings in North America, including Camp Ramah New England and at Day Schools and Religious Schools in Chicago, New York, New Jersey and Florida. She & her husband made Aliyah in 2013, yet for the next 2 years they are in Margate, Florida. She is proud of their 12 grandchildren who live in both countries.
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