Tag Archives: holidays

Chag Chanukah Sameach!

So last night was my first day of my first Hanukkah ever. (I will be using “Hanukkah” in my English writing and “Chanukah” when I write in Hebrew transliteration. Just sayin’.)

My Jewish best friend came over, helped me get through errands that I couldn’t avoid, made a fabulous dinner (she wouldn’t let me help) AND brought me and my husband gifts.

For him: A Jewish Study Bible (one of the books on our Intro to Judaism textbook wishlist). For me: another of the books from that same wishlist.

She also brought gelt and a dreidel, and taught me how to play. I had bought a set of very pretty dreidels that were also delivered yesterday, as well as a box of dark chocolate gelt. It was very fun.

My husband was blown away by her gifts. And when we lit the candles, we each stated our intentions for that first candle: me for my late father, my husband for one of his best friends who had died recently, and my best friend for my husband – that he is also joining her People along with me. He got teary-eyed. It was sweet.

First Night of Hanukkah

We put the menorah in front of the window. The shamash is the one on the far right (and yes, it’s a little taller than the other candle holders in this menorah). My friend lit it and taught us the song for the prayers – which are in our siddur, thankfully.

Dreidels and gelt.

That’s the dreidel that my friend brought, up-a-top. The similar-sized one from the set I purchased is lying among the gelt. (Note: we have silver gelt and gold gelt both – the silver is the dark chocolate type.)

We have holiday plans for Friday evening; friends of ours who are chosen family (including my Jewish best friend) are coming over for Shabba-nukkah (Shabbat during Hanukkah?). I have a brisket waiting to be cooked with apples and red onions in the slow cooker; my husband is planning bread pudding with gluten-free artisinal bread we got from our local gluten-free (and Jewish!) bakery; apple fritters; challah from that selfsame bakery; brussels sprouts with capers and lemon juice – it’s going to be a good feast. I’m hoping that my friend will also make us latkes; we’ll have sour cream and applesauce for them, for sure. Sufganiyot won’t be possible this year because the bakery doesn’t yet have the deep-frying ability to make them, but hopefully by next Hanukkah we’ll have those as well.

I also plan to (and resign myself to) gaining ten pounds over the next few days. Hey, it’s the holidays. I’m allowed.

We’re also having to take the husband’s car in to the shop to get the window repaired – it stopped working yesterday, which would have been fine if it had done so when rolled up. Doing so when rolled down was less-good (it was pouring rain last night). We are also going to go get our new cat, we hope, tonight. Our previous fur-kid died in early February, and it took a while for both of us to be ready for a new one.

In the meantime, I have a few more grades to finalize, a house to clean up, and students to manage in a wintertime class. If you’re so inclined, keep a good thought that I hear back positively from the job I had a second interview for a week ago. They said “late next week,” so that’s now “late this week.” I can hope they’re going to call today or tomorrow, right? And in the meantime, I’m not going to worry about it.

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Filed under Day-to-Day, Holy Days, Judaism

Copied from a comment: The Unthinking Retailers at Holiday Time

In response to another person’s blog asking why retailers carry almost nothing for us Jews at this time of year, and whether they were thinking or not, I had this response.


The old saying is, “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Which is true, but… my argument with this aphorism is that there is a space between stupidity and malice. That space is thoughtlessness. That’s where the retailers are.

They don’t think, because we’re a numerical minority. Unless they live in one of the big urban areas near one of our small urban enclaves, they’re not really even aware of us. They don’t realize that not all Jews look like the young Mel Brooks.

They don’t think, because we’re not like them. Our holidays have weird names in a non-English language and they don’t stay put on their calendar. We don’t put up trees or lights (unless they’re blue and white) or say the holiday greetings that they say. We’re not interested in sitting on the lap of the fat man in the red suit (or in letting our kid sit on his lap either). And the fat guy? He’s probably just wishing that all these screeching kids and drunk adults would go home and let him go get a coffee or a brandy.

They don’t think. They don’t have to. They’re on Holiday Autopilot and it would never occur to them that other people have holidays they don’t understand. They think of Hanukkah as “Jewish Christmas” and wish us “Molotov!”, believing that they’re doing something “inclusive” by doing so.

I’d almost prefer stupidity to the proliferation of “Hams for Hanukkah” and “Want your menorah to arrive by Christmas? Just pay for ultra-fast shipping at checkout and we guarantee it’ll be there by December 24th!” I would almost prefer malice to the absolutely braindead non-thinking Holiday Autopilot.

I don’t have a Hanukkah bush or an Eitz haMoed. Instead, I have a bouquet of cut flowers with juniper sprigs mixed in on my dining table. I have a menorah waiting for me on my bookshelf for when I can light its first candle tomorrow night. I have dreidels on the coffee table and gelt making its way to me from a fair trade company through the mail. I have a feast planned for Shabbat, when I will have my children and my husband and my chosen family with me, and I plan to be as Jewish as I can be that night and cook for armies. When I think of the winter holidays now, I think back to last year, when my Jewish friend hesitantly asked if she could bring a travel menorah on the night she was visiting, and how I watched in awe and wonder while she sang the prayers over a lit birthday candle in a menorah smaller than my wallet.

I am trying to ignore the proliferation of green-and-red-and-white light displays and ostentatious (and tacky) inflatable snowmen and the awful music pouring out of the grocery store speakers. And mostly, I’m successful.

But yes. I get it. You’re not alone.

Shall we sing along with the Maccabeats to drown out the unthinking noise?

Chanuka Sameach!


Now I want to make something clear: if you have an Eitz haMoed, I have nothing against that. It’s your practice, and it’s your tree. No skin off my nose.

I just get tired of the non-Jewish expectation that I’ll still celebrate a holiday that has nothing to do with my religion, or that I’ll go along to get along. It annoys me. Always has, always will.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have grades to finalize and a tzedakah box to plan a paint scheme for.

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Filed under Conversion Process, Day-to-Day, Holy Days, Identities