You’re So Not Invited To My Sukkah: The Week's End October 6
Oct 6th 2023

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about Stacy Friedman’s Bat Mitzvah.

If you do not understand the Hebrew, or you were not paying close attention, you missed the message of the movie. Stacy is chanting the maftir of Ki Tissa (Exodus 34:33-35). It is not translated. There is no commentary. [Movie blooper fans: the maftir is referred to as her haftorah.]

When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would leave the veil off until he came out; and when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see how radiant the skin of Moses’ face was. Moses would then put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

Context: It is the end of the story of the Golden Calf. Moses is coming down Mount Sinai with the second set of tablets. His face is so radiant that it alarms the people. So he puts a veil on when talking to the people but removes it when talking to God. The passage infers that this happens continually.

The movie is about the metaphorical masks that we all wear. When we put them on and when we take them off. How we present ourselves to some people and how we present ourselves to other people.

Think of the scenes with temporary masks. In Stacy’s first conversation with God (15:12) when she is worried that her parents “don’t get it,” she is pounding on the bed while wearing a make-up mask that she has just put on her face. At Kym’s house party (25:05) the minyan of girls are all wearing white goo masks on their faces as they are being untruthful about which boys they might have on their minds. 

On a larger scale, the entire movie is a midrash on the story of the Golden Calf.  Andy Goldfarb is the Golden Calf. No coincidence that he has golden hair. No coincidence that gold is in his surname. Goldfarb. Farb is old German/Yiddish for paint or dye. Goldfarb: painted gold, because all that glitters is not gold. Don’t be fooled by the fact that he is the only boy wearing a large Magen David around his neck. Stacy Friedman at the ark chooses to kiss the golden calf instead of the Torah. The molten calf, ‘egel maseichah, on which the Etz Hayim commentary notes: “Most likely a wooden model was overlaid with gold.” What does Dad scream at the end of this episode? “Andy Goldfarb is going in the goddamn wood chipper!”

Andy Goldfarb. Only in a dream is he eloquent. “Stacy, I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you in the temple’s Purim Pageant. You were the finest Queen Esther I ever laid eyes on. Is it okay if I officially signify me as being your boyfriend by giving you a kiss?” 

In the real world, he does not have much to say.  In fact, he is nearly a monosyllabic dolt.  What does the Psalmist say about idols? We recited it regularly in the morning service: “פֶּֽה־לָהֶם וְלֹא יְדַבֵּֽרוּ . . . אָף אֵֽין־יֶשׁ־רֽוּחַ בְּפִי They have mouths, but cannot speak . . . nor is there breath in their mouths. That is, they have no substance. Andy Goldfarb has no substance. Just before she chants the maftir, Stacy removes Andy’s mask: “Andy, I’m going to keep it brief because I know that you can’t focus on one thing for that long, but you’re basic and not nice to people . . . And worst of all, because of you, I ruined my friendship with the one person that matters the most.” Wow.

Until that point though, Stacy Friedman was no Queen Esther. When all of her attempts to impress Andy failed, she turned to self-righteous revenge. Not until things could not get any worse did she realize that friends and family come before her pettiness.

In the final scene of the movie, she dances with Mateo, the boy who admires her kicks but she does not listen. Who offered her water when she was speechless over Andy. “If you invite Mateo, Andy might come.” Mateo who warned her that she might break both legs and her spine if she jumped, and then made the sign of the Cross. Mateo who tried to impress her by making a food plate to take to Andy’s grandmother. Most importantly, the boy who bakes challah and said that he came to the Beth Tzedec Congregational School to find holiness during the week to supplement going to church on Sunday. When? When she was on the way to kiss the Golden Calf.

Jacob woke up from his dream and he said, אכן יש ה' במקום הזה, ואנכי לא ידעתי. Surely God was always in this place, and I did not know it.הֶֽם: