Image via WikipediaHanukkah has been upon us for the past week so it is time to reflect on what it means.
In the early days, back in the kibbutz, it was all about donuts (sufganiyot), the Israeli style. I still remember them and miss them terribly. Burning hot dough, filled with injected red jam that burns your tongue at the first bite, and tons of powdered sugar all over my face. Yummmm. They don't make them this way here, so I've been deprived of suf-ga-niyot for the past 25 years. Oh, well. At least I'm saving on the calories.
The interesting part of Hanukkah now is that I have to impart the story to my daughter. And as I have already confessed before, my success rate at Jewish education is abysmal.
This morning my daughter bragged that she knew the letters on the dreidle. Kind of.
Is it 'nun',(נ) she asked me to make sure she was right. Is it 'vav'? I know 'hey',(ה) like hey you, she said proudly.
I squirm when I see the ignorance. But then she tells me that she took a bunch of dreidles to a party at the neighbor's house and taught the other kids about the meaning of the letters and my heart was filled with pride and joy. She knows the Hebrew word for dreidle (sevivon) and she thinks it is a cool word, like her mom is a weirdo from some esoteric tribe that mumbles unintelligible words and eats strange vegetables and celebrates the aversion of disasters. It is just too funny to see my own flesh and blood knowing so little about things that are part of my DNA.
So speaking about averting disasters, this morning she said something about Hanukkah and crossing the sea and maybe she even mentioned Moses, I'm not sure. So of course, using my motherly compassion I told her that was passover, and that passover was the miracle of being saved from the Egyptian, but on Hanukkah it was about a miracle of being saved from the Greeks, and on Purim we were being saved from the Persians.
So getting into the car she went like, without even looking at me, "Don't you have anything with Muslims?" I swear to the almighty evolution that I am not making this up!
I guess through the grapevines she had heard about the Israeli-Arab conflict. I mean, I talk about stuff at home once in a while, you know. So I was like, Muslims? We are celebrating miracles that occurred five thousand years ago, girl, two thousand years minimum. Muslims? There were no Muslims around five thousands years ago.
But then, lo and behold, I remembered, we do have a holiday for overcoming the Muslims. Independence Day. The Nakba, as our Palestinian friends call it. This holiday does not mention god or miracles, but still, again, we were almost annihilated, and we were saved, Yee-pee. Let's celebrate and eat something.
So just to cover my base I asked her, do you know when is Yom Kippur? You should know that stuff because one day you might be kidnapped by Jewish fundamentalists and the only way you can save your skin is by knowing about Yom Kippur and proving that you are a good Jew. After all, this is what the Taliban are doing now when they kidnap people. If you can say allahu akbar convincingly enough you don't get beheaded.
So this girl of mine, whom I have been trying to teach something about what it means to be a person of the Jewish persuasion for over a decade now, settled in her seat and said it as if it were the most obvious thing in the world: Ten days after Rosh Hashana.
I'm cleared and vindicated for eternity.