O Chanukah, O Chanukah

Standard

Light the Menorah….

Today is the first night of Chanukah. It is also the fourth Sunday of Advent and the eighteenth year since my Mother died. I always say that she died intentionally on this day – 25th of Kislev. On the Julian calendar she died on December 8th, which was the 25th of Kislev. Her yartzeit will always be on the first night of Chanukah. I know she did this on purpose; there is no excuse to forget her candle. I’ve seen others with anniversaries on other important days have mixed feelings on the sharing of a sad day with a happy one, and I do feel the sadness from eighteen years ago, but I also think fondly and lovingly on this day, remembering my mother and her ways. I see her in myself especially as I get older. I said something to my daughter tonight, and I had to pause because I sounded exactly like my mother. I think when I was younger this would have bothered me, but today, it made me feel not only closer to her, but closer to my daughter. We used my childhood menorah tonight, which will feel like putting my hand in a fiery piece of the sun by the end of the holiday; it radiates heat when all nine candles are blazing brightly.

My husband managed to find some gelt. It’s nearly impossible in this area, and I did order a small batch online, but it won’t be here until later in the week. I really like to give the kids their dreidls and gelt on the first night, and we were able to. I even found colored (blue and clear) plastic dreidls (at Target) that I could fill with the chocolate coins and one Maccabee chocolate soldier each. I’d never seen those before (from Bed, Bath, and Beyond).

I also made the best latkes I think I’ve ever made in my life. They truly were perfect and that never happens. I eat them with applesauce and sour cream, both. Why should I choose between them?! I also fried up some chicken cutlets, which were also excellent. The whole house smells of oil: olive for the chicken; vegetable for the latkes.

Here’s to the light of the season, no matter where it’s coming from or what holiday you’re celebrating this month.

(c)2022

Friday Food. December.

Standard

December is full of different types of food to fill the days of the different types of holidays we celebrate throughout the month of December. Recently, I went to a Festival Of Learning and had Latkes with applesauce (personally I love applesauce AND sour cream with my latkes) for Chanukah and Mexican Hot Chocolate with Molasses cookies for La Posada, and tonight (if it doesn’t snow) it will be something wonderful to celebrate Kwanzaa.

Our family Christmas traditions revolve around food and my husband’s traditions. Christmas Eve is Chinese take-out for dinner and Christmas morning breakfast is Dunkin’ Donuts. For dinner, it’s his mother’s tradition of a proper British carve up: roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, carrots & peas, plus a few of our own favorites. One year I made Yorkshire pudding which is both intimidating and easier than you think it is. She always made Trifle, which I have not even attempted.

Continue reading

Inspire. December.

Standard

For nothing will be impossible with G-d

Luke 1:37

It’s been a rough one, and so it’s been a little rough getting to the inspiration portion of our post, but we will get there. I have been enjoying the little things of Advent: the readings, the faith enrichment I’ve been attending, the multicultural program on holiday lights, a workshop on the Redemption of Scrooge which links into our own priorities for this holiday season.

I’m also seeing how close G-d is to the surface of my life. In recent years, I have truly felt His presence, but the number of actions that had to take place recently really shouted out loud that G-d is everywhere. I believe that, and have always believed that in my heart, but to see it in tangible action can be overwhelming and the gratitude for that is at play and it sings out and amazes me.

Despite only recently finding Jesus Christ, I’ve always been a religious person in my own way, teaching my family our traditions, lighting candles at Chanukah, eating matzoh at Passover, fasting at Yom Kippur, but in finding Jesus, I have also found other ways to see G-d’s presence that I wasn’t always fully aware of.

Some back-story. On the home page is a personal update that included my falling down the stairs. I have been healing, slowly but surely, and I haven’t been able to drive. I’ve only just started driving locally. My husband has been alternating between vehicles depending on which car has more gas, where it’s going, or just arbitrarily choosing which car to take. He picked up my daughter and her friend from work the week of Thanksgiving, and was waiting in traffic, completely stopped with his turn signal on, when a pickup truck slammed into the back of the car. At the last minute, the pickup driver realized he was too close and moved to the right, trying to avoid us, but hit our car on the rear right side rather than dead on in the middle of the trunk. I think this caused more damage than it would have the other way.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Because of the holiday it took nearly a full week to get an estimate and find out that the insurance company would not repair it but deem it a total loss.

The idea that a car that we used multiple times daily, trying to teach two kids to drive, and get us from here to there in a town with limited public transportation isn’t worth the cost to fix it is something I will never understand. I do understand the cost-benefit analysis that goes into the decisions, but for us that car was worth much more than its monetary value and I don’t mean sentimentality, but necessity.

We were reasonably upset.

As it was before the accident, my husband was driving me (and everyone else in the household) everywhere; some days he was driving from one place to the next, never leaving the car until we were all home for dinner.

For one of the faith enrichment evenings, I got a ride from some friends of mine. (This is where G-d comes in). Afterwards, we were going back to their car when another mutual friend walked with them and was talking to them, asking if they knew anyone who was looking to buy a car – she was selling her father’s car. I immediately asked how much she was selling it for.

One week and a day later, we had a new (to us) car. We’re waiting for the insurance money to pay her for it.

Had my husband driven me, I would not have known about the car.

Had another friend driven me (as was the plan), I would not have known about the car.

Had the woman been parked in a different area of the parking lot, I would not have known about the car.

For me to be in the back seat of my friends’ car when this woman told them about her father’s car, and them just hearing about our car accident (and that we only found out that day it would be totaled) was nothing short of a miracle.

It was G-d’s hand in everything, and sometimes we stay aware of His influence just enough to recognize it and jump on it, and of course, when something like this happens, proclaim it.

Have a blessed finish to your Advent and a Merry Christmas.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Standard

I was out this weekend for some breakfast and holiday shopping, and I saw a man wearing a dark hoodie with an American flag on it, although it was black and white with a blue stripe for the middle stripe. I recognize this as a call out in support of law enforcement. I don’t disagree with supporting law enforcement when it’s called for, however there is a lot to be done to improve their strategies, especially when it comes to working with people of color and the mentally ill and people not necessarily mentally ill but in crisis in the moment they meet up with LEOs.

I am certainly not going to solve this problem in one blog post.

On the back of this hoodie, above and below the black, white, and blue flag was the phrase:

Blessed are the peacemakers,

For they will be called the children of G-d.

Matthew 5:9

I was drawn to it in a negative way. It bothered me. It bothered me enough to start writing about it here. Part of that is some of the study I’ve been doing this Advent season through readings and a couple of faith enrichment and scripture classes throughout the month of December.

I recognized that phrase as from Scripture, although my initial thoughts were incorrect in assigning it to Isaiah (his readings are quite prominent during Advent) rather than where it actually comes from: Matthew 5:9; the Beatitudes.

The entirety of the Beatitudes is contained in Matthew 5:3-11

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

I won’t relay them here. You can google or open any Bible and read all of them. There is also an addition that Pope Francis expressed on an Ecumenical trip to Sweden in 2016 that can be read here.

Reading through this part of Chapter 5 of Matthew and getting to verse 9, it is clear to me that this Scripture is entirely misinterpreted by the people who created (and wear) that hoodie. The implication that law enforcement and military are the peacemakers is inconsistent and contradictory.

I also found it ironic that I saw this on the hoodie during Advent when we are reading the Book of Isaiah who prophesizes an unlikely peace among foes: the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, calf and lion, cow and bear, children and snakes (reversing Adam and Eve’s punishment in the Garden of Eden). (Isaiah 11:6-8)

When I see these types of scriptures on hoodies that promote law enforcement and military soldiers as peacemakers it just fills me with exasperation and even a touch of anger. The misinterpretation that soldiers are peacemakers and not warriors first is simply wishful thinking. This isn’t to say that all soldiers are bad; I don’t believe that, and I understand the need for a military. I understand that when the UN sends its soldiers they are called peacekeepers, and I get that too. Peace is the goal. The UN tries to be neutral despite arguments of its futility and the presence of its flaws. I think that neutral isn’t the objective though as much as fairness and the desired overall good of society.

Are the peacemakers the ones with guns? Or are they the ones with food? With books? With pens and clothes and shelter? The pen is mightier than the sword is it not? That aphorism (as wella s many others) credited to author Edward Bulwer-Lytton has been known similarly as far back as before Biblical sources including an Assyrian sage in 7th century BCE and Greek playwright Euripides using different words in place of pen: word, tongue. Talmudic and Islamic sources also reference words, both oral and written, a means of knowledge and peace as being stronger than the strength of the sword, a means of war. The implication being that with the pen/word being mightier, peace is also mightier than war.

It’s important that we call out these misuses of words and reclaim our Scriptures that have been corrupted and used in opposition to what they actually say.

War is sometimes necessary, but it shouldn’t be considered inevitable, nor should it be considered the path to the kingdom of heaven and to the discipleship of G-d.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are those who mourn; blessed are the meek; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; the merciful; the pure in heart; those who are persecuted; those who are reviled and persecuted falsely on the account of Jesus.

And blessed are the peacemakers; those who make peace. They don’t force something they call peace on others; they create a lasting peace, an eternal peace.

Those are the peacemakers; they are the children of G-d.

Holiday Shopping 2

Standard

My apologies to my friend, Alyssa. I inadveertanly left off her online shop in my previous post. That has been rectified, but I wanted to draw attention to her store, which I’ve added to the main shopping post here:

Holiday shopping

Rain City Handcrafts Glass Can Tumbler.
Click the photo to bet taken to the store.
(c)2022

Rain City Handcrafts can be found online and on Etsy.