Hanukkah Magic

“Daddy, look what I found!” Eitan exclaimed.

I’d just walked into the apartment after teaching Hebrew school that morning. Our plans for a family Hanukkah party in the afternoon had been canceled since Shayna woke up with a fever, but that didn’t stop Eitan from discovering the towers of wrapped gifts that Trudy and I had hidden under the table behind the couch. He ran over to the table as I came in and pointed excitedly at the various shapes that were no longer covered by the towel.

“Mommy told me you didn’t put the presents there but I don’t think I believe her. It was really you two, right?” he asked. Continue reading “Hanukkah Magic”

Strength and Beauty

The principal of the religious school where I teach led an exercise on Tuesday evening.

It was the first night of Hanukkah. We had gathered all of the students together in the small chapel of the synagogue so that we could talk about the holiday and light the hanukkiah1 together. After a quick refresher for the students about the correct way to light the candles – shamash2 first, candle for the first night on the right side of the hanukkiah, light the newer candles before the older ones, etc. – we all sang the blessings together while one of the teachers lit the candles.  Continue reading “Strength and Beauty”

A Hanukkah Poem

‘Twas the month before Hanukkah
The leaves had been turning
Though it should have been cold
The weather was burning.1

Thanksgiving had passed
Black Friday came and went
We avoided buyer’s remorse
Despite the money we spent.

But the music had started
(A bit later, to be fair)
The onslaught of Christmas
Could be felt in the air.  Continue reading “A Hanukkah Poem”

Miracle of Miracles

I don’t remember my family hosting a lot of big parties when I was young. We had family parties here and there through the years and we hosted a couple of birthday parties for my brothers and for me, but we didn’t have many huge gatherings at our house. The biggest gathering I remember was for my brother’s brit milah1 just after he was born. When I was in middle and high school, my family joined with a group of other families from our synagogue and we started a rotation of holiday parties and other Jewish activities, but we only hosted a few of them. My wife’s family, on the other hand, went all out for everything. They would have between 20 and 30 people at their house for every holiday and would make enough food for twice that many.2 I’m not saying her family did holidays better than mine, just that we had different experiences growing up. And I like to think that now that we’re married and have started our own family, we’ve done a pretty good job of combining traditions from each of our experiences.  Continue reading “Miracle of Miracles”