Tag Archives: Jews

Candle 8: #HanukkahHoopla

Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah: the eighth night.

Believe me, we have had enough with the oil.

Still, check out these blogs as they mark the grand finale to our #HanukkahHoopla! 

 Frume Sarah’s World  @frumesarah

Aprons & Blazers  @OpenRoadMama

Enjoy this last highly slightly irreverent video.

 

Our generous sponsors Streit’s and Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, have provided each of the bloggers involved with this project with a little #HanukkahHoopla gift pack. See individual blogs for information on how to win.

Candle 7: #HanukkahHoopla

Tonight is the seventh night of Hanukkah!

Check out these blogs to get a sense of the Hanukkah experience:

The Culture Mom @theculturemom

I wish my mom @sharistein

Enjoy this video by The Bare Naked Ladies.

Our generous sponsors Streit’s and Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, have provided each of the bloggers involved with this project with a little #HanukkahHoopla gift pack. See individual blogs for information on how to win.

Candle 6: #HanukkahHoopla

Merry Christmas to those of you waking up to all the joys that this day signifies.

#HanukkahHoopla continues.

If you can find a moment, please consider checking out these blogs:

 These Little Waves  @galitbreen

 CiaoMom  @ciaomom

People have asked me: What exactly do Jewish people do on Christmas? Well, in case you are interested, here is a small sampling of how people responded to that very question on my Facebook page. Sorry I couldn’t quote everybody (and sorry so smeary), but you get the point.

So there you have it.

If there had been snow in these parts, a lot of us would have been skiing.

You know, no lines.

Enjoy a quick video.

Our generous sponsors Streit’s and Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, have provided each of the bloggers involved with this project with a little #HanukkahHoopla gift pack. See individual blogs for information on how to win.

Candle 5: #HanukkahHoopla

Tonight marks the fifth night of Hanukkah, as well as Christmas Eve.

I love when holidays overlap.

Check out these bloggers to get a sense of the Hanukkah experience.

TheJackB  @thejackb

Erin Margolin @erinmargolin

Enjoy a quick video.

Our generous sponsors Streit’s and Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, have provided each of the bloggers involved with this project with a little #HanukkahHoopla gift pack. See individual blogs for information on how to win.

Wherever you are tonight, may you be warm and safe and surrounded by people with whom you love and who love you!

What We Are: A Hanukkah Post

When my son was a l’il dude, I tried not to bring him to the grocery store if I could avoid it. But one year, it was our turn to host the annual family Hanukkah party and twenty-four people were coming over that night, so I found myself in the grocery store for the eleventy-seventh time that week.

As a result of poor planning, I had to bring the l’il dude along.

As I zoomed down the aisles – grabbing applesauce and sour cream for the latkes — we rushed past rolls of wrapping paper featuring snowflakes, ornaments in every shape and color, lighted-reindeer for the yard, artificial garlands and wreaths, tree skirts; boxes of 100-count multi-color lights; enormous platters embossed with angels sporting sparkling halos; floppy red, velvet hats with fluffy white pom-poms at the ends; pillar candles in red and green and gold; Godiva chocolates wrapped in boxes with bows and six-packs of chocolate Santas wrapped in silver foil.

It was full-blown Christmas in that grocery store.

My 4-year old – who had spent the last 18 months of his life at a Jewish Community pre-school surrounded by other children who did the same things in their homes that we did in ours — sat trapped inside the grocery cart. He eyed the Christmas fixins with curiosity; his head whipped from side to side, taking it all in.

“Know what’s weird?” my son started tentatively.

I heard his words, but I didn’t.

I needed to find the tuna fish.

And another carton of eggs for the egg salad.

I needed jelly filled donuts.

And I needed more oil. More oil for the latkes.

“What’s weird is that there is so much Christmas stuff because almost nobody celebrates it.”

I stopped pushing the cart.

I looked at my sweet, innocent son.

I thought:

How do I explain that Jews make up 0.2% of the world population?

That in the United States we comprise 1.7% of the population.

That when he starts kindergarten in September, he will likely be the only Jewish kid in his class.

That people might not like him because he is Jewish.

That, once, store owners wouldn’t allow me to clean my clothes in their laundromat because I was Jewish.

That millions of people have been killed throughout history because of their love of Torah. Because of their desire to preserve generations of religious and cultural traditions.

I rubbed my son’s spiky crew cut and I told him this:

“There are many people in this big world and you will find that people celebrate things in lots of ways. Hopefully, when you get older, you will have friends who will invite you to their houses to celebrate Christmas. And a hundred other holidays that you don’t even know about yet. Because there are a eleventy-million-bajillion ways to celebrate what is close to our hearts. And each way is wonderful. Hanukkah is just one way. But it’s ours.”

My son smiled.

And like the wish that it was, it has come to pass.

My l’il dude is now 12 years old. And he has celebrated Christmas with friends. And Kwanzaa. And Eid. And Diwali. He loves being invited to experience how his friends celebrate their assorted religious and cultural traditions. He feels proud to have tasted everything from stollen to chickpea curry. He has sampled poori, spicy khaja, and sweet and nutty desserts like atte ka seera. My boy’s ears have heard many dialects, and he is fluent in laughter. He can understand a smile in any language. He has learned the stories behind why people do what they do, and he understands their beliefs are as right and precious to his friends and their families as ours are to us.

He has sampled many different ways to be.

But he has never wanted to be anything other than what he is.

Other than what we are.

• • •

Now go read Life in The Married Lane by the amazing Rivki Silver.

I would like to thank Streit’s and Doni Zasloff Thomas a.k.a. Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band for providing each of the 16 bloggers involved in #HanukkahHoopla with a little cyberswag.

Click on the button below to be connected to the other bloggers involved in the #HanukkahHoopla project!


Candle 3: #HanukkahHoopla

Tonight is the third night of Hanukkah!

Check out these bloggers to get a sense of the Hanukkah experience:

The Monster in Your Closet  @deb_bryan

kvetchmom @jlweinberg

Check out Mama Doni in action below!

Our generous sponsors Streit’s and Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, have provided each of the bloggers involved with this project with a little #HanukkahHoopla gift pack. See individual blogs for information on how to win.

Candle 2: #HanukkahHoopla

Tonight is the second night of Hanukkah!

Check out these bloggers to get a sense of the Hanukkah experience:

  Nina Badzin’s Blog @ninabadzin

  Diary of a Paper Princess  @RishonaMyers

Enjoy this little Hanukkah video.

For people who have never heard Hebrew, this video features the blessings we recite and instructions on how we light our menorahs.

Our generous sponsors Streit’s and Mama Doni, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, have provided each of the bloggers involved with this project with a little #HanukkahHoopla gift pack. For information on how to win, click on the little menorah button above.

A Little #HanukkahHoopla

Immediately after Thanksgiving, the blogosphere became crammed with posts about How to Find the Perfect Christmas Tree, and Elves on Shelves & What To Get Your Man for Christmas and lots of stuff about Why We Need To Keep Christ in Christmas.

And that’s all cool and everything.

Except I thought: I want some #HanukkahHoopla!

So, I telepathically contacted Jewish bloggers from across the globe.

What?

No, seriously, I am good, but I can’t do that!

But with a little networking via Twitter, I was able to connect with fifteen other Jewish bloggers, each of whom agreed to write something Hanukkah-ishy.

Taken together, you will see we represent a broad range of Jewish experience.

Some of us are Reform. Others are Conservative. Some are Orthodox. Some of us have converted to Judaism.

Two of us are rabbis!

Some of us keep kosher; others, not so much.

We have enjoyed getting to know each other, and this was truly a group effort.

So look for our button.

This is the button!

And leave us comments that will make us kvell.

Why?

Because we are fortunate to have sponsorship for our series! Streit’s and Mama Doni**, the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, have provided each of us with a little #HanukkahHoopla gift pack including:

•Mama Doni’s 2011 Parents’ Choice Award-winning CD, Shabbat Shaboom
•a Mama Doni poster
•a Download card for free Mama Doni songs (1 Chanukah song and 1 Passover song)
•a Bag of Streit’s chocolate Hanukkah gelt.

(**Note: That’s Mama Doni doing her thing in the video above. Isn’t she cute?)

I don’t mean to point out the obvious but that’s sixteen chances to win, people!

You’ll find more information about winning our #cyberswag on individual blogs.

So look for our button.

If you click on it, you should will be magically transported by Jewish unicorns to this page and then you can figure out who has posted and who will be posting next.

For those of you on Twitter, look for the hashtag #HanukkahHoopla because we’ll be tweeting each others’ tushies off between December 20-28.

Below is the schedule for who will be posting and when as well as everyone’s Twitter handle. You can comment on anyone’s blog all the way until the end of the 2011. Winners will be posted on our own blog pages, but they will also be posted here!

Chappy Chanukkah!

Candle 1:

12/20 Leah’s Thoughts @leahs_thoughts Winner: Caryn Statman

12/20 Ima On (and Off)The Bima @imabima Winner: Lisa Goldstein

Candle 2:

12/21 Nina Badzin’s Blog @ninabadzin Winner: Lisa Aronauer

12/21 Diary of a Paper Princess @RishonaMyers Winner: Cari Chartock

Candle 3:

12/22 The Monster in Your Closet @deb_bryan

12/22 Kvetchmom @jlweinberg Winner: Paprika Furstenburg

Candle 4:

12/23 Lessons From Teachers and Twits @rasjacobson Winner: Allison Greenhouse Bronstein

12/23 Life in The Married Lane @rivkisilver – Winner: Meghan @aMegaliLife

Candle 5:

12/24 TheJackB @thejackb

12/24 Erin Margolin @erinmargolin Winner: Andrea Bates @GoodGirlGoneRed

Candle 6:

12/25 These Little Waves @galitbreen Winner: AskDoc

12/25 CiaoMom @ciaomom – Winner: Meryl Ain

Candle 7:

12/26 The Culture Mom @theculturemom Winner: Gigi Gervits Schwartz

12/26 I wish my mom @sharistein – Winner : Sara Hawkins

Candle 8:

12/27 Frume Sarah’s World @frumesarah Winner: Bible Belt Sarah

12/27 Aprons & Blazers @OpenRoadMama Winner: Danielle Kolko

Congratulations to all our winners, and thanks to all our readers!


The Book Is Closed. Or Is it?

When I was a little girl, a Sunday School teacher told me that on Rosh Hashanah, G-d opened a big book that had everyone’s names in it, young and old.

My teacher explained how, each year, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, G-d decided who would live and who would die in the upcoming year. And how. By fire or by water; by plague or by earthquake. The list went on forever.

I remember imagining a really old, wrinkled guy in white robes sitting at a silver desk perched on top of clouds. In his smooth, shaky hand, he held a gold pen that he used to cross-out people’s names.

On The High Holy Days, I dressed in the fancy clothes that my mother had laid out for me and sat in temple all day with my family.

And as the adults chanted words in English and Hebrew, I played nervously with the knots on my father’s prayer shawl.

And I looked around and wondered who was not going to be there the next year.

Because it was a pretty scary idea: that G-d was making decisions all the time based on how we behaved.

(‘Cuz I wasn’t always the best little girl.)

But there was a lot more to that prayer: a part that I didn’t figure out until years later.

The prayer reads:

But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity avert the severe Decree! This is Your glory: You are slow to anger, ready to forgive. G-d, it is not the death of sinners You seek, but that they should turn from their ways and live.

Until the last day You wait for them, welcoming them as soon as they turn to You (314).

Those words are a gift.

An exhale.

They mean that if we really have open hearts and want to do right for all the messed up shizz we have done throughout the year, through prayer and acts of love and kindness, we can change a course previously set in motion.

Jews have ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to try to set things right.

And G-d is reasonable.

Like a good parent.

For example, when your kid messes up and you calmly explain: “Listen, I asked you to clean your room, but you ignored me. If you clean your room, take out the garbage, wash the dishes, and walk the dog, you can have your iPod back tomorrow.”

G-d is cool like that. G-d does not say:

You were bad so I’m putting you out of your house, buddy. Nothing you can do about it now, sucker!

Not at all.

G-d wants us to recognize and admit that we have goofed up during the year.

And we can fix these things.

We can apologize.

To have that chance, to be able to fix what has been broken, is something I take pretty seriously.

There is a scene from the movie The Jazz Singer (with Neil Diamond) that I can’t watch without crying.

It is a scene that shows a little of what Yom Kippur is about.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the film, Yussel Rabinovitch, the son of an Orthodox cantor, decides to leave his religious tradition and follow his heart.

He leaves his synagogue and the expectations of his family to continue as a cantor. (Whaaat?)

He leaves his childhood sweetheart, Rivka. (Unheard of.)

He drives across country because he wants to sing popular music. Non-religious music. (He’s meshuganah.)

He changes his name, loses his Jewish identity, and becomes Jess Robin.

He meets another woman. (Oy.)

She’s not Jewish. (Double oy.)

They fall in love.

At some point, Jess is in New York and he runs into one of his father’s old friends who tells him that his father has been ill.

The doctors won’t let Cantor Rabinovitch sing on Yom Kippur due to his high blood pressure.

We learn that a Rabinovitch has always sung on Kol Nidre for — like — 912 generations. (Or at least 3.)

But Jess Robin humbly returns to his roots and becomes Yussel Rabinovitch for Yom Kippur.

Even though his father has declared him dead.

Even though he has been excommunicated.

He goes back to apologize the only way he can.

In song.

(Note: I start crying at 1:24.)

This is what we are supposed to do.

(No, not the singing thing!)

We are supposed to humble ourselves — to those we have hurt, to G-d — in that kind of honest way.

The High Holy Days give Jews a chance to reflect on the wrongs we’ve committed to those around us, to make amends for those wrongs, and face the new year with gratitude, and hope that we’ve been given a chance to start anew.

Bottom line: We have all sinned.

We are human.

This year, the fasting is over.

The table has been cleared.

What’s done is done.

The Book is closed.

I’ve done what I can.

I guess this is where the faith part comes in.

Now the trick is to be a better me in 5772.

Now listen to Babs sing and tell me what you feel when you hear her voice.

Stern, Chaim. Ed. Gates of Repentance: The New Union Prayerbook for the Days of Awe. 2. New York: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1985. 313-4. Print.

© Renée Schuls-Jacobson 2011

How The Struggle To Survive Spring Break Was A Lot Like The Jews’ Exodus From Egypt

The artist's rendering of Charlton Heston as M...

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This year, Spring Break fell on the same week as Passover – the Jewish holiday which commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. (Think Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.) This year there seemed to be so many similarities between Monkey’s heinous April “staycation” in Western, New York and the oft-repeated, seemingly never-ending Passover story that I simply could not ignore it.

During Both The Exodus and Spring Break, People Got Creative: When Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, made a law that every male, infant Israelite be killed, Moses’ mother got busy. She wove a little  basket, put her son into it, and floated him down the river, hoping he would be found among the reeds.

The first few days of April vacation were fine, but by Sunday evening, Monkey and I were done with our Game-a-Thon. We had played dozens of games, but after thirty-two arguments about his iPod Touch usage, Hubby and I decided to confiscate Monkey’s Touch for the remainder of the week. From that moment forward, we had conversations so similar in content, I was ready to stick Monkey in a basket and float him down the River Nile. They went something like this:

Monkey: Can I go on the computer?
Me: No.
Monkey: Can I Skype someone?
Me: No.
Monkey: Can I use my iPod Touch?
Me: No.
Monkey: Can I watch TV?
Me: No.
Monkey: Were you born this mean?
Me: No, I minored in mean in college.

In an effort to keep Monkey away from screens, on Monday, I took him to the library. We brought home Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane. I figured he would read while I rolled matzah balls for the chicken soup. After 40 minutes, Monkey set down his book and wandered over to me.

Monkey: Colin’s really good at Super Smash Brothers Brawl.
Me: Cool. Wanna help me cut some carrots for the soup?
Monkey: If I cut carrots, can I get my iPod Touch back?

During Both The Exodus and Spring Break, People Were Tested: On Monday night, we had the first seder. There were only nine of us this year. We got to the part about how God spoke to Moses in the form of a burning bush.

Monkey: If someone came down from a mountain today saying he had talked to a burning bush, that person would be considered insane.
Me: There has always been a fine line between mystical experience and mental illness.
Monkey: There’s this cool computer game called Portal. Can I get it?
Me: Not in the middle of the Seder.
Monkey: Well, can I show it to you on the computer after the Seder?

Two cups of wine later, Moses and his brother, Aaron, go to Pharaoh to explain to him that the Lord has commanded that he let the Israelites go. Pharaoh becomes furious, sends the dynamic duo away, and proceeds to treat the Israelites worse than before. At this point, Monkey announced to everyone: “Mom’s kind of like the Pharaoh. She won’t let me have my iPod Touch.”

Nice.

During Both The Exodus and Spring Break, There Were Bizarre Events: In the Passover story, after the Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, God inflicted ten horrible plagues on the Egyptian people, most of which involved weird supernatural weather. I mean, The Lord turned the water into blood; He made skillions of frogs hop all over the place; He brought on boils and swarms of locusts and – gasp – lice. He even caused the Egyptian’s animals to get sick and die.

Well, weird shizz happened here over the vacation, too. First of all, it was mid-April. Normally, by mid-April it is usually kind of warm. And by warm I mean, it is not ridiculously cold. But it was cold. Ridiculously cold. Over Spring Break, it snowed twice, hailed once, and – not for nothing – but it actually rained so hard that people’s basements flooded. The creek in our backyard (which never overflows) overflowed and nearly took out one of our trees, dragging a bunch of soil and mulch into our neighbors’ yard.

During Both The Exodus and Spring Break, There Was a lot of Hurrying: When the Pharaoh finally decided to let the slaves go, the Jews did not wait around. They grabbed what they could carry and got out of Dodge, guided by a cloud (provided courtesy of The Lord). When the Israelites reached the Red Sea, they saw that Pharaoh was pursuing them with a large army. The Jews were afraid, but God commanded Moses to raise his rod and the waters parted so the Jews could reach the other side in safety.

When the Israelites saw that they were safe, they sang a song of praise to God.

Monkey: Wanna hear a song that will get stuck in your head?

During Both The Exodus and Spring Break, People Complained: After the Jews escaped and had traveled for some time, they started complaining to Moses because he brought them to a land where they did not have enough to eat. (I imagine it was a little like Survivor without the camera crew. They probably formed alliances and wore buffs made out dust and rocks.) But God was good and sent the Jews quails and manna. And when the people were thirsty, God commanded Moses to touch a rock with his rod and water poured out of the rock, so the people would stop their bitching.

In our house, after several days of matzah consumption, everyone began to complain of gastrointestinal unrest. Such moaning, you would not believe.

Monkey: Do we have any raisins?
Me: I think we are out.
Monkey (moaning): Prunes?
Me: We can put them on the grocery list.
Monkey: How about my iPod Touch? Can we put that on the list?

During Both The Exodus and Spring Break, People Got Frustrated: Just as the Jews wandered the desert – in the heat, without showers, without a GPS to guide them – Monkey wandered the neighborhood looking for something to do and someone to do it with. It ain’t easy being Jewish during Spring Break. Especially when Spring Break falls the same week as Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Monkey was frustrated to learn that most of his friends had gone to visit relatives or jetted down to warmer climes. I got to hear about it.

Monkey (pleading): Can I please use my iPod Touch?

Please note, Monkey never once said that he was “bored.” He made this mistake once when he was in 3rd grade and he quickly learned that – if a person announces he is bored – well, there is always a toilet that needs a good scrubbing.

Anyway, the Jews wandered for forty years in the desert. Having sand in your underpants for four decades is enough to make anyone cranky.

During Spring Break, I tried to take care of Monkey’s needs just as God (via Moses) took care of the needs of His people. One day a friend called, and we discussed taking a road trip with our sons. (Read: My friend was going insane with the “staycation” crap, too.) On that day, we packed up our three boys and took them to the Corning Museum of Glass where they proceeded to act like the proverbial bulls in a china shop. During a short glass blowing demonstration, our children so pestered the artist, he actually dropped the delicate, glass elephant he had been crafting for fifteen minutes, and the little pachyderm broke into three pieces. Most people left the demo at that point.

Not us.

Monkey: Schnarf!
Monkey’s Friend : Can we wander around now?
Monkey’s Friend’s Brother: Can I have that elephant’s legs?

After being constant companions for nine days, Monkey and I maxed out on each other. We glared at each other from across rooms. K’Nex creations began to look like viable weapons.

During Both The Exodus and Spring Break, There Were Miraculous Moments: Spring break wasn’t all bad. There was one particularly endearing moment when Monkey and I were wrestling – something we like to do during commercials (especially during long vacations from school). Anyway, he’s getting stronger now that he is almost 12 years old. It wasn’t as easy to take him down as usual. But I got him. I managed a completely ridiculous totally smooth backward roll, and I pinned him to the floor. We laughed hysterically until our show came back on the air, and we returned to our couch-sitting silence. As my son adjusted his hair (good hair is very important at almost age 12), Monkey said, “Mom, you are a really good wrestler.”

It was a tender moment.

Kind of.

Both The Exodus and Spring Break Ended. And then suddenly, magically, it happened. Just as God said: The Israelites arrived at the Promised Land.

And Monday morning, the middle school in my backyard lit up like… well… like a school. And I thought to myself: Huzzah! The Promised Land. And as Monkey set off, I watched him until he disappeared around the corner of the brick building, then I took his iPod Touch from out of the cupboard, plugged it in, and thought to myself: Amen.