This past Friday night I attended my first Shalom Zachor. This is a traditional Friday night gathering to celebrate the birth of a baby boy. I hear what you are thinking. I gave birth to FOUR baby boys and I hadn’t attended one Shalom Zachor? Yes, that’s right. In the neighbourhood where I live it is traditional only for men to go and ‘wet the baby’s head”. Women just don’t go. For two of ours, I was still in the hospital. But even when I wasn’t, it was not my place to go, or so I thought.
So we were notified of this Shalom Zachor in our neighbourhood, and the KoD asked me if I wanted to go. I said no. Women don’t go. He said, but here they do. I looked at him like he was an alien with three heads. The wise man didn’t press the issue, bless him. We ate out at friends Friday night (Rabbi L and the lovely Rebbetzin A – food and company was delicious and awesome as usual) and they asked us if we had planned to go to the Shalom Zachor. Again I gave my shpiel – and again was told that it isn’t like that in New Hempstead. Honestly, I felt really weird going – as if I was transgressing some sin. But if Rabbi L said it was ok, then fine. You know, with the KoD and Rabbi L teamed up against me, I was a goner…
We went. I wished the mommy mazal tov (she looked awesome, especially for someone just having given birth a day or two prior). The women were sat in the living room and the men were sat around a huge table eating yummy foods, drinking beer and having a jolly good time. I got to hold the centre of attention – 9 lbs of absolute yumminess. You forget how small newborns are (not that mine were that big until 2 months of age) and just how snugglable and delicious and cute (when did mine grow up so much?)…The best part of holding him? When he fussed I passed him back to his Grandma.
It was awesome to be part of this ritual. But it got me curious. What is the source for this custom? It is not a law. Just a custom practiced for a long time. And why do we eat chickpeas and drink beer at a Shalom Zachor? Why do we not have something similar for girls? Please quote your sources.