It’s nearly midnight. Do you know where your high school seniors are?
I ask, because if it’s on or about Rosh Chodesh Adar, chances are said 12th graders are off somewhere working on the all-important Hachtarah.
What’s a Hachtarah, you ask?
Well, to answer that, I suppose we should consult that scholarly classic, namely, The Official Our Shiputzim Adar Lexicon (2010), which includes the following definition:
Hachtarah (הכתרה) - Literally, coronation or inauguration. Basically an elaborate Purim shpiel, but also the event at which the Rav or Rabbanit Purim is crowned. In most schools, this is considered to be the highlight of the senior year.
Now, far be it from me, a mere blogger, to argue with such an authoritative and well-regarded reference work as the aforementioned Adar Lexicon, but although this definition is technically correct, I’m not sure that it fully conveys the Hachtarah’s magnitude or significance.
That is, I believe that when the lexicon was originally published, the author was then the mother of a then-yeshiva high school senior.
In other words, the author obviously had no firsthand experience with a Hachtarah in an ulpanah, and as a result, she clearly did not realize that in an ulpanah, the Hachtarah is less “elaborate Purim shpiel” and more what is referred to in Orthodox Jewish girls’ high schools in the States (or in the New York area, anyway) as the “Production.”
In my own quaint, out-of-town school, we called it simply a play or a musical – without a capital letter…
Needless to say, a major theatrical event such as the Hachtarah requires weeks and weeks of preparation - including writing scripts, rehearsing scenes, building sets, sewing costumes, choreographing dances, and so on.
Which, in educational terms, translates to almost no classes from Rosh Chodesh Shvat, countless all-nighters, exhausted girls, and bemused parents.
But, as they say, the show must go on, and so, we here at Our Shiputzim extend our best wishes to all the performers and eagerly look forward to what promises to be a great night!