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August 13: International Left Handers Day

August 13, 2013

imagesThe first International Left Handers Day was celebrated on this date in 1976 by Left Handers International, an organization that is long since defunct. The day is still marked by lefties, however, who make up nearly 10 percent of the world population. Famous Jewish left handers include, in no particular order, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Lenny Bruce, Fran Drescher, Danny Kaye, Jon Stewart, Paul Simon, Ehud Olmert, Benjamin Netanyahu, Harpo Marx, Marcel Marceau, George Burns, and, of course, Sandy Koufax. (Forgive the preponderance of men, but men are more often lefties than women.) In the biblical book of Judges, the tribe of Benjamin is described as training its warriors to be left-handed so as to fool their enemies in close combat. Nevertheless, while Jews historically have leaned to the political left, Judaism discriminates against left-handedness no less than other cultures: Maimonides, for instance, counted it as a “blemish” like lisping and blindness that would bar a Jews from serving in the Jerusalem Temple, and the yetzer hara, or evil urge, is associated with the left side. The mezuzah is attached to the right side of a doorway, the kiddush cup is held in the right hand, the Torah scroll is carried on the right side of the body, etc.

“Left handers are the Jews’ Jews.” —David Holzel