Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Yes, we know, we know, it's not supposed to be a Jewish holiday. But when we researched the subject a couple of years ago, we discovered that celebrating love can be very Jewish.
The Los Angeles Jewish Home has been providing a fertile environment for love to grow for many years. As long as they keep reporting on love matches at their facility, we'll keep sharing them with you, especially on Valentine's Day.
Today's love story is about Ray, 93 years old and a resident of The Jewish Home, meeting Jerri, another 88-year-old resident, and how they went throught the phases of (these are the words of The Jewish Home, not ours) Courtship, Intimacy, Shacking Up, Meeting the Children, and Happily Ever After.
Our readership has doubled since we last visited the Los Angeles Jewish Home on Valentine's Day. So for the benefit of our newer readers, here is what we found then with regard to Jewish observance of this day.
There always have been mixed feelings in the Jewish world about celebrating this day which originally was named in honor of Valentine, a Christian saint. And today, you can find opinions from rabbis of all Jewish denominations that approve and disapprove of its observance.
We did some searching and found that despite some views that the holiday is foreign to Judaism and should be avoided, there are a growing number of opinions, even in the Orthodox world, that not only should the holiday be observed, but that it should be embraced.
As Rabbi Benjamin Blech, professsor of Talmud at Yeshiva University, has written about Valentine's Day on the aish.com website,As Jews, we may not be sure whether it's proper for us to join the party. After all, for the longest time the full name of this holiday was “St. Valentine's Day” because of its legendary link with the apocryphal story of one of the earliest Christian saints. Yet academics aren't the only ones who have recognized the dubious historical basis of this connection. Vatican II, the landmark set of reforms adopted by the Catholic Church in 1969, removed Valentine's Day from the Catholic church's calendar, asserting that "though the memorial of St. Valentine is ancient… apart from his name nothing is known… except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on 14 February."What's left for this day, as proponents of its universal celebration declare, is something that people of all faiths may in good conscience observe: A day in which to acknowledge the power of love to make us fully human.When I am asked as a rabbi if I think it's a good idea for Jews to celebrate Valentine's Day, my standard answer is, "Yes, we should celebrate love… every day of the year."