Blog  A Star Wars Shabbat

A Star Wars Shabbat

By Helaine Bach, NFTY-SW

In case you didn’t know, May 4th was National Star Wars day. If you didn’t, chances are that by some means on that day, you found out. You may have been greeted with a “May the fourth be with you” or found out through posts on Facebook. The fourth of May this year happened to land on a Friday. I went to school, put up with the corny Star Wars puns, and when school let out figured I was done for the day. I was wrong.

The rabbi of our congregation is a bit of a Star Wars nerd. When I say a bit, I mean a lot more than a bit.  He started the service by mentioning that it was not only the 12th of Iyyar, not only the 27th day of the Omer, not only Jacob Colvard’s bar mitzvah, but also National Star Wars Day. The Erev Shabbat services continued as usual, but I had my suspicions of what was to come.

When we reached to Mi Chamocha and Rabbi Bach set his guitar down, I knew it was coming. I put down my siddur, settled into my seat, and prepared for some interesting takes on the franchise. He began with the question: “What’s Jewish about Star Wars?” Congregants began to reply with some smart-aleck answers like “the producer” or “the actors.” I could tell Rabbi Bach was reaching for a bit more than just the people involved in making the movies. He started hinting at the fact that it was a very Jewish story and eventually the congregation caught on.

I had never really thought of it before, but he was right. The Empire’s oppression against the rebel alliance is so similar to the story of the Jew’s oppression over the years, I’m surprised I haven’t heard a sermon form Rabbi Bach on it earlier. I can’t claim to be an expert on Star Wars – truthfully I’ve only seen episodes four, five, and six and that was once when I was about 9, but I was impressed by the connections Rabbi Bach was able to draw. For example, not only is the story eerily similar, but the names of the characters have an almost perfect translation into Hebrew. Yoda is a small little green guy full of knowledge of the force whose name actually means “knowledge” in Hebrew. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s name in Hebrew, k’navi, means like a prophet. These are just a few among many connections Star Wars has to Judaism.

As a conclusion, Rabbi Bach explained how throughout the year, Mi Chamocha, the song of the Jewish people’s redemption is sung to different melodies to prepare us for a holiday. At Channukah, we sing it to Mao Tzur, Hatikvah on Yom Ha Zikaron and Kol Nidre during the high holidays. Now on this holiday, National Star Wars Day, what better way to celebrate the redemption of the rebel alliance than singing the song of our freedom to the tune of that age old melody.