Tag Archives: shehecheyanu

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

Seven Things About My First Yom Kippur

Here’s seven things about my very first Yom Kippur (and yes, I did say a shehecheyanu for it):

1. Over the course of two Torah services, I was called for four (group-based, granted, but still) aliyot. “All guests stand to say the first aliyah” at the first service, and “all teachers,” “all artists,” and “everyone” at the second service. And I still can’t quite pronounce the whole Hebrew blessing on the Torah, but at least now I can reliably sing the beginnings and ends of them.

2. I did eat something before services because my doctor would have killed me if I didn’t. But I was able to wait until services were over before I felt the need to eat, which was nicely taken care of by my fiancé when he picked me up.

3. I made a couple of new acquaintances when we got talking after the anger-management workshop in the middle of the day. We talked so long that we missed the Yizkor and made it to second service just on time. Whew.

4. I am learning the songs rapidly. The words, not so much.

5. At the break-fast afterwards, my grain-free challah went over really well and I got multiple requests for the recipe. Many people couldn’t believe it was gluten-free – “But it doesn’t taste like a rock!” was the most common objection.

6. I symbolically fulfilled the mitzvah of beginning to build a sukkah right after breaking my fast by driving a nail into the communal sukkah that was waiting outside the temple after services were over.

7. The most stunning thing that I’ll remember from this is watching as the sky in the windows above the Ark went from bright day blue to medium afternoon blue to dark twilight blue to black as the services progressed. It really gave me a sense of “the gates are closing!!’ and of urgency, to see that as it was happening.

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Filed under Holy Days, Jewish Practices