Experimental Fridays: Lady Gaga's Sukkot
There is a simple beauty to the holiday of Sukkot, perhaps because it is the chag (holiday) with the least meshugas (craziness). The Day of Atonement and the month of weighty reflection are behind us, the manic celebration of Simchas Torah lies ahead. Sukkot, often called The Festival of Ingathering, is unadorned, honest, at peace with itself.
And it reminds me of Lady Gaga.
Though I would not use the term “unadorned” to describe her inspired ensembles, she is unadorned when it comes to her character, honest when it comes to her spirit, at peace when it comes to her personhood. And she invites, nay demands, through her songs, performances, interviews, and her anti-bullying campaigns that others strive for the same.
On Tuesday, Lady G was awarded a peace prize by Yoko Ono, for her efforts of combining stardom with activism. (Last month, Yoko Ono awarded the LennonOno Grant for Peace to members of the band Pussy Riot who are serving time for staging a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral.) Gaga dedicated the award to “youth empowerment around the world,” and added a challenge: “I dare you to be compassionate in a cynical age.”
Yesterday was International Day of the Girl, a movement to speak out against gender bias and advocate for girls’ rights. On the movement’s homepage, they’ve boiled down a mission to four clear objectives:
- Shatter Stereotypes
- End Injustices
- Demand Equality
- Change the World!
Damn. Those are good, enviable of any social justice initiative. Below the actions, is a collective quote: “We want to be seen as equals. In the eyes of others AND in our own eyes.” That “AND” is a powerful conjunction—it’s an injunction, actually. “Girls!”, it’s saying, “your treatment and sense of worth begins with yourself! Others will take their cue from you. So get your perspective into gear!”
And that’s what I think Sukkot, the Festival of Ingathering, is all about: quiet paradigms, contemplative bliss; raucous revelations like Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way” or like the opening lines of Beresheet. Ah! There is so much potential in this new year! When I gazed through the lattice of earthen plants, able to see the stars in the night sky, I was done with Tashlich and with what I had chosen to leave behind; I could now focus on what to bring with me, not only into the sacred space of the Sukkah, but into the new year. I can believe in a girls’ movement. I can believe in Lady Gaga. I can believe in compassion. I can believe in acceptance, in self-celebration. We do not need to wander; we can grow and partake in a bountiful harvest.