Category Archives: Jewish Stuff

Oy Vey! The Matzah Balls!

Looks good, right?

Looks good, right?

A few years ago, I did a crap load of cooking. I was preparing for Passover, so I was doing what Jewish mothers do — cooking up a storm. I was Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray and Betty-freaking-Crocker — except the Jewish version.

So picture frizzier hair and a bigger nose.

That year, I made 3 times as many matzah balls as I usually would, to make sure that my family would have enough to eat for the entire week. It took hours, but no big whoop, right? These are the things we do for love.

After the brisket went in and the noodle kugel was finished, I realized I didn’t have enough room in my freezer. So, I asked my kind neighbor if I could use a little space in the freezer that she keeps in her garage. She said of course.

Passover comes and so do all the guests. I’m serving the soup, and I’m like where are all my matzah balls? I look in the freezer, in the refrigerator, in the garage. It’s cold enough. I’m thinking, maybe I stashed them in the trunk of my car. Sometimes I stick things there. I look everywhere. I only have 18 matzah balls. The thing is this: that year? We have 24 people at the house. Picturing, standing in the kitchen, confused and cutting matzah balls in half.

I believe it is written in the Torah.

Thou shalt not run out of matzah balls.

But I did.

I apologized to our guests.

Time went by.

Spring came and went.

Months after the holiday ended, I was sitting on my driveway in the sun when my neighbor asked if I would like to have my matzah balls.

“Because isn’t Passover coming up?” she asked.

You guys, I didn’t even remember giving them to her.

Suddenly I was like: Should I be worried? Should I call the doctor? Do I need to check about early dementia? Seriously, how did those balls get over there? Did they roll across the street on their own?

I followed my friend into her warm garage. She opened her freezer and next to the ICEEs, there was my long-lost Tupperware container filled with frozen balls. All 9 bazillion of them.

I obsessed about forgetting those matzah balls.

And then I got sick. For 15 months, I couldn’t cook or clean or even leave my house.

I couldn’t even think about making matzah balls.

It’s been a few years since I hosted a Passover meal.

At 32 months off Klonopin, I’m doing really well. I’m grateful to be alive, grateful to feel Spring in the air, hopeful that one day I will feel even better. I know all of this is part of G-d’s plan.

And this year, I plan to enjoy someone else’s balls.

#IYKWIM.

tweet me @rasjacobson

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Moving Beyond Where I’m From

The place I grew up. My parents still live there.

i’m from a little gray ranch hidden behind overgrown bushes on a steep hill.

i’m from beneath the willow tree and a field-stone wall, peopled by imaginary friends.

i’m from high expectations. from complex equations left unfinished on the backs of paper restaurant menus; from pink plastic flowers; a bedroom with curtains that matched the wallpaper and the bedspread.

i’m from praise whispered in one ear and criticism hissed in the other. from “stand up straight” and “every penny counts” and “be a big girl.”

i’m from confuzzled truths and secrets and lies.

i’m from strong Judaism watered down. from Torah and tallit and kippot, lox and bagels, noodle kugel and matzah ball soup. from a broken Borscht Belt, stories of what once was, memories of a dark pew in a fire-bombed synagogue.

i’m from want. from a hot-headed Polish Papa who once threw his plate on the apartment floor. from his ketchup and eggs, like bloody clumps soaking into the carpet. and my Nan who silently cleaned up his mess.

(don’t tell me this isn’t true. i was there.)

i’m from a fractured family of brothers who tried to make a business work. from Muriel who nurtured her garden but didn’t do as well with her children. from Ruby who spent too many hours at the store and on the golf course, and smoked too many cigars.

i’m from cracked paint and faded couches; the girl hiding under a blanket in a drafty room.

i’m from a crooked house on a steep hill that rarely houses guests. from parents who were present but also not. from powerful magic love that made me feel invisible.

for too long a sense of obligation tethered me to all that grey.

i am done trying to please them.

time to take care of me.

Where are you from? Throw me one line.

• • •

This meme was very hot a while back, but I was not confident about sharing such a personal piece. Since then, I feel less afraid.

Thanks to Jenny Hansen for encouraging me to move beyond the first sentences and to Sharla Lovelace for inspiring Jenny. If you go to HERE, you will see this exercise is based on a poem by George Ella Lyon called “Where I’m From,” and if you’d like to try it yourself, the original link is there.

Candle 8: #Hanukkah Hoopla

Hanukkah 8

My favorite menorah, all lit up.

Well, it’s the last night, and Monica Gebell of Aprons and Blazers writes about  “Light.” Ahhhhh.

Comments are closed here, but leave Monica a comment for a chance to win some cyberswag.

Tweet this post for an extra chance to win my handmade stationery.

Candle 7: #Hanukkah Hoopla

This menorah is my least favorite: the candles don't fit in the holes and it's kinda boring. But it was my first menorah. I can't retire it.

This menorah is my least favorite: the candles don’t fit in the holes and it’s kinda boring. But it was my first menorah. I can’t retire it.

This year, Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr writes about Attunement.”

Comments are closed here, but leave comments at The Messy Life for a chance to win a little sumpthin-sumpthin. You don’t have to be Jewish to win.

tweet this post for an extra chance to win my handmade stationery!

Candle 5: #Hanukkah Hoopla

 

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My favorite menorah. Tech Support made it when he was 5! It’s still intact!

 

Ever wonder what it’s like to celebrate Hanukkah? Read Tikva Kennedy’s piece “Hanukkah Without a Christmas Tree.” Good stuff!

Comments are closed here, but leave her a comment for a chance to win cyberswag.

tweet this post for a chance to a non-denominational holiday gift from me!

Short on Decor, Long on Miracles: #Hanukkah

 Leave a comment for a chance to win some of my handcrafted stationery! 

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I stopped into The Christmas Tree Shoppe to pick up last minute items for our Annual Hanukkah Party.

(I know, shopping for Hanukkah at the Christmas Tree Shoppe, the irony isn’t lost on me. What can I say? They have great papers goods.)

Traditionally, there isn’t much décor associated with The Festival of Lights, which – truth be told – is fine by me. I see friends struggling with wreaths and trees and ornaments and inflatables and lights. How do I get ready for Hanukkah? I go down in the basement and open up one blue bin, take out my three favorite menorahs and a couple of dreidels, and I place these items on a table.

That’s it. No fuss. No muss.

The extent of my Hanukkah decorations.

The extent of my Hanukkah decorations.

Now, you have to understand. I wasn’t looking for anything, so of course that’s when I found it: a colorful door decoration with the word CHANUKA printed boldly on the front.

CHANUKA? I tilted my head, confuzzled.

Because I’d never seen it spelled that way.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen Hanukkah spelled a lot of different ways. Because the initial sound used to pronounce the word Hanukkah isn’t a sound used in English. The gutteral h is pronounced at the back of the throat, and — when pronounced correctly — sounds like someone trying to hork up a loogey.

So I liked the decoration, but I didn’t want it if Hanukkah wasn’t spelled correctly.

“Okay Google,” I spoke into my phone. “How do you spell Hanukkah?”

Yummy, yes.

Yummy, yes.

As it turns out, the most common spelling for Hanukkah is “Hanukkah” with 8.5 million hits in the Google search engine. “Chanukah” came in with over 3.3 million searches, and “Hannukah” came in with 862,000 hits.

You might be interested to know Xanuka is considered a valid spelling.

And Channukka.

And Chanuqa.

So I’m still standing there, clutching this felt decoration in one hand and my phone in the other, trying to decide if I should buy it or put it back.

You know, because it was spelled weird.

(Or at least it felt like it was spelled weird to me.)

And then I laughed at the silly dilemma I’d created in my head.

Because Hanukkah isn’t about decorations or spelling. It’s about miracles.

As some of you know, I was sick for 15 months. During that time, I didn’t know anyone else who had ever been through what I was going through, and those months were terrifying, isolating and awful. Many times, I felt G-d was punishing me.

And yet.

Some unnameable thing kept me hanging on. Some little voice inside of me – perhaps the G-d part of myself – knew that one day the suffering would end and that I just needed to wait. And pray for a miracle.

What appeals to me most about Hanukkah is the idea that miracles can be found in every day moments, how big and small things that seem impossible can come to pass.

I appreciate the way we gather together to tell and retell the story of how people overcome difficult times, to celebrate the miracle of friends and family whom we love and are loved by; the miracle of having the chance to learn something new everyday; the miracle of our collective curiosity and kindness that inspires us to make meaningful connections with others.

These days, I can even appreciate the eleventy-seven jillion ways we spell Hanukkah.

So it’s decided. Starting now, I’m collecting decor where Hanukkah is spelled any which way.

Because why not?

(So do you think The Christmas Tree Shoppe still has that cute Chanuka door decoration? Or did I miss my chance?)

What are you celebrating this time of year? What kind of decorations, if any, do you set out? What do you love/hate about the holidays? 

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NOTE: I’m participating in #HanukkahHoopla with 7 other bloggers. In the spirit of the season, we’re giving away 8 gifts to 8 lucky commenters. Click on the menorah to find links to other writers’ blogs & increase your chances of winning!

tweet me for an extra chance to win handcrafted stationery! 

Candle 3 of #Hanukkah Hoopla

Miriam of Bubby’s Joys and Oys broke her ankle, and found herself writing about it a lot. Today, Miriam takes a break from recounting her own pain and frustration to look outward in her piece  “Eight Personal Miracles of 2014.

Comments are closed here, so leave her a good & you might win some cyberswag.

tweet this post for a chance to a non-denominational holiday gift from me!

 

Candle 2 of #Hanukkah Hooplah

Yummy, yes.

Yummy, yes.

If you’re married, you’ll appreciate Life in the Married Lane. Please enjoy Rivki Silver’s heartfelt piece “The Miracle of Marriage.” 

Comments are closed here, but leave Rivki a good one and you can win a little Hanukkah present.

tweet this post for a chance to a non-denominational holiday gift from me!

Candle 1 of #Hanukkah Hooplah

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Please visit The Culture Mom’s blog and read Holly’s stunning post,  “Hanukkah Hoopla Story.”  If you’ve ever had a difficult time as a parent, you’ll appreciate Holly’s honesty regarding her special needs son.

Comments are closed here, but leave her a comment if you want to win some of her #cyberswag.

tweet this post for a chance to a non-denominational holiday gift from me!

Time For #Hanukkah Hoopla 2015!

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The last time I wrote about Hanukkah was waaaay back in 2011.

That was soooo long ago! No wonder I found myself thinking: I want some #Hanukkah Hoopla!

With a little networking, I was able to connect with SEVEN other bloggers, each of whom agreed to write something Hanukkah-ishy.

We’re offering cyberswag to people who leave fabulous comments.

That’s EIGHT chances to win, people!

When you click on the button on anyone’s page, you’ll be brought back here, so you can see the schedule and figure out which blogs you’ve already visited and which folks you still need to read.

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This is our button.

Comment on anyone’s blog from December 16th thru the end of the 2014. Winners will be posted here & on individual bloggers’ pages in the new year!

Hanukkah Hoopla Blogging Schedule 2014

12/16 : Holly Rosen. “My Hanukkah Hoopla Story” – Winner: Jimonah

12/17 : Rivki Silver. “The Miracle of Marriage” – Winner: Marla

 12/18 : Miriam Hendeles.  “Eight Personal Miracles of 2014WinnerLisa of The Cycling Grandma.

12/19 : Renee Schuls-Jacobson. “Short on Decor, Long on Miracles”  WinnerSuzanne of 31-Derful

12/20 : Tikva Kennedy. “Hanukkah Without a Christmas Tree”

12/21 : Rebecca Klempner. “Ready For a Little Hanukkah Hoopla”  Winner: Marilyn

12/22 : Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr. Attunement.” Winner: Chana Sara of Hippie’s Journey in Judaism.

12/23: Monica Gebell.  “Light” – Winner: D’Alta

Enjoy this year’s Festival of Light! And remember to celebrate everyday miracles!

What are you doing to celebrate this season?

@tweet @rasjacobson for an early, extra chance to win