Joshua Hammerman
Rabbi, award winning journalist, author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi"

Top 10: When July 4 and Shabbat coincide

Ten special additions to sabbath practice, from special hassidic attire to the right tune for Adon Olam

This year, Independence Day coincides with Shabbat. I’ve done some research to see what Jewish practices are in order, and came across a little known rabbinic source related to “Ethics of the Fathers,” called “Ethics of the Uncles.” There I found the following, attributed to “Dod Sh’muel,” or “Sam, the Uncle.”


1) We begin the Shabbat with not 2, but 3 candles. The third is to be lit by remote control from a safe vantage point at least 100 feet away.

2) At the Sabbath meal, 2 hallot are served, each with apple pie filling.

3) Cookouts are allowed, as long as the charcoals are lit before sunset and the food is prepared beforehand. In other words, cookouts are not allowed.

4) It is customary to sing Adon Olam to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

5) When reciting the Amida, instead of facing Jerusalem, we face Washington D.C. Or if Joe Lieberman is in town, we simply face him.

6) When walking around with the Torah, it is customary for the cantor and rabbi to do a do-si-do with the president, singing “Turkey in the Straw.”

7) At the beginning of the Torah reading, the Gabbai (sexton) shouts, “Play Ball” and the reader takes the yad (pointer) and tries to knock a knish out of the park.

8) The popular Shabbat afternoon dish known as cholent, featuring simmering vegetables and chunks of meat, is pureed so that all the items blend together and then simmered in a melting pot.

9) NASCAR runs the “Shabbat 500.” Precisely at sundown, all the drivers get out of their cars and run for the finish line.

10) Finally, for one day of the year, Lubavitch Hasidim replace their furry shtreimels with red and white striped top hats, and then go around to Jews imploring, “We want YOU.”

About the Author
Award-winning journalist, father, husband, son, friend, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and rabbi of Temple Beth El in Stamford, CT. Author of Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi – Wisdom for Untethered Times and "Embracing Auschwitz: Forging a Vibrant, Life-Affirming Judaism that Takes the Holocaust Seriously." His Substack column, One One Foot: A Rabbi's Journal, can be found at Rabbi Hammerman was a winner of the Simon Rockower award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism, for his 2008 columns on the Bernard Madoff case, which appeared first on his blog and then were discussed widely in the media. In 2019, he received first-prize from the Religion News Association, for excellence in commentary. Among his many published personal essays are several written for the New York Times Magazine and Washington Post. He has been featured as's Conservative representative in its "Ask the Rabbi" series and as "The Jewish Ethicist," fielding questions on the New York Jewish Week's website. Rabbi Hammerman is an avid fan of the Red Sox, Patriots and all things Boston; he also loves a good, Israeli hummus. He is an active alum of Brown University, often conducting alumni interviews of prospective students. He lives in Stamford with his wife, Dr. Mara Hammerman, a psychologist. They have two grown children, Ethan and Daniel, along with Cobie, Casey and Cassidy, three standard poodles. Contact Rabbi Hammerman: (203) 322-6901 x 307