Saturday, December 6, 2008

The One in Which She Has to Represent

Each year at some point in my life, I have had to be the one to check the calendars. The token, if you will. The wiser on the subject. The Chosen One. All eyes will look to me to whip out my handy calendar of customs and practices and see what is what and when. Whether it be a school function, a soccer practice, a PTA meeting, a meeting for work(when I actually did things and got paid for doing them) - I am the one who was the gate keeper to all things Jewish. Even here in the cyber meeting world - I have been called upon to "represent" for my peeps. And, as I am forever channeling my inner Linda Richmond - I will do so with as much seriousness as I do most things.



Hell, I can't get through a day without letting out some self-deprecating humor or a good yiddish expression. Or ten. Oy Vey - see? There I go again.


**************

This was a typical conversation with me and my calendar in the days of yore...



Me: "We can't have that meeting on that Tuesday after 5:00pm in September, it's the first night day of Rosh Hashana"



n.j.. Boss* "but my calendar says it is on Wednesday.


Me: " Yes, n.j. Boss, it does - but the Jewish calendar is lunar, with each month beginning on the new moon. And the rest of the world operates by the solar calendar. This is because a Jewish "day" begins and ends at sunset, rather than at midnight. If you read the story of creation in Genesis Ch. 1, you will notice that it says, "And there was evening, and there was morning, one day." From this, we infer that a day begins with evening, that is, sunset. Holidays end at nightfall of the date specified on most calendars; that is, at the time when it becomes dark out, about an hour after sunset. And, the Jewish day begins at sunset the night before the day of the holiday. When the mathematical calendar says that a holiday starts on Wednesday, it actually means that the holiday starts on Tuesday night. So in actuality we can't have that meeting until Friday because Rosh Hashana is a two day holiday and ends Thursday night....


n.j. Boss: {{crickets}}


me: "...and don't ask me why sometimes the holidays are in September and sometimes in October...and how sometimes Christmas and Hanukah coincide and sometimes they are weeks apart. I was never very good at the Metonic system......"


n.j. Boss: oh jesus mary joseph swirl girl - when can we schedule the meeting?


me: ...I'll consult the Talmud and get back to you on that n.j. Bossman.



For observant Jews who work in the secular gentile world, this can be problematic in some years: if all of the non-working holidays fall on weekdays (as they sometimes do), an observant Jew would need to take 13 days off of work just to observe holidays. This is more vacation time that some people have available. But don't get me wrong - sometimes this came in handy. We got to take the regular national holidays as well as the important Jewish holidays off from work!

(Heh-heh-heh)


**********


So let's start with Hanukah, since it is coming at us faster than a bunch of jews lined up in front of the Two for One Sansibelt sale at Jacks for Slacks in Boca Del Vista .....(self deprecating jew joke) - Contrary to popular sitcom folklore, we don't all move to Florida (a.k.a. God's Waiting Room ) when we retire, and suddenly wear polyester stretchy pants. We don't all talk like Seinfeld's parents, suddenly find orange an attractive hair color, and play mah jong. Well, some of us don't anyway. ( I fear it's a genetic predisposition..)

Anyway - Hanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a holiday to commemorate the rededication of the Temple desecrated by the Greeks in ancient Syria a wicked long time ago. According to the story - when the Greeks , led by Antiochus and his hoard of Greek guys blew into town, they oppressed the Jews ( oy, vat else is new?) by trashing their 'hood, prevented them from practicing their religion - and even sacrificed pigs in their Temple. Now- a Jew named Judah Maccabee didn't like those Greeks gettin' jiggy with the piggy in his house - got together with his boyz and decided it was time for the 'throwdown'! The Jew crew defeated the Greeks and it was a mitzvah. But, when it was time for the rededication of the Temple, legend has it that there was not enough oil to light the menorah , or candelabrum, which was supposed to burn throughout the day and night. Miraculously - the little they had lasted 8 days and 8 nights. (such a deal-and you know how we jews like a good deal!) Hanukah celebrates that miracle of the lights, not the victory over the Greeks. We're a peace loving people y'all.

Most people know Hanukah, not because of its religious significance (it really isn't that religiously significant to begin with) , but because of its proximity to Christmas. In fact, the only religious ceremony is the lighting of the menorah itself. The whole gift giving thing is a relatively modern answer to the Christmas tradtion of gift giving. (can you say 'jealous much'?) And while all of you out there need additional square footage or another garage just for the boxes of ornaments, the prestrung Martha Steward artificial spruce and the inflatable Rudolph and Frosty yard snowglobe...we get to go into the cabinet over the fridge (that is reserved for stuff you don't use because you can't reach it) pull out our menorah (and we usually have two or three homemade firetraps from preschool) and a box of candles- and maybe a little dreidle ; a game whereby contestants spin a square wooden top to win some (really gross tasting) chocolate coins a.k.a. Hanukah gelt.

Sounds festive doesn't it? We might even get crazy and fry up some Latkes (potato pancakes) - and this year, because we've been very, very good...we'll serve those with applesauce and sour cream! Wheeee!

On the first night of Hanukah around here - after we've lit the 1st candle on the Menorah, opened one present ('cuz we have 8 frickin' nights of this my friends) ..my kids like to put on their jammies...watch the Burl Ive's claymation classic of...(uh, not for us) hop in the car (sans carseats and seatbelts)... pop our favorite carols into the c.d. player- (no wait, we don't have any of those.)..and drive around the 'hood checkin' out Christmas junk, er um , sorry - I mean decorations! ***

So there you have it. 2000 years of history and tradition as interpreted by your favorite (or perhaps your only) cyber Jew! If you think Hanukah was fun...just wait until springtime for the interpretive dance of the Pascal lamb and the Matzoh!

* n.j. stands for non-jew
**much of this post was stolen..er, um adapted from the site Judiasm 101.
***and no it's not okay to have a tree or lights or decor when you don't celebrate Christmas people. Blue and white lights hanging from your eaves and mailbox do not mean Hanukah. If you put up lights and junk, how will Hanukah Joe know where the Jews live? How would he know whose sliding glass doors are open so he can sneak in and leave some gelt and a dreidle under the pillows of good little kinderlach? Huh? I guess he could wait until Christmas Eve, and just got to the local Chinese restaurant and movie theaters. Because that's what Jews do on Christmas Eve. Gotta Represent.

Oh yeah- and let's send a Chchchchchchappy (summon up all yer phlegm folks, we are a very phlegmy people- what , with all those years of walking in the desert and all) Birthday to my sister in Florida! She is not retired, and does not have orangey blonde hair (yet)...and I wish I could celebrate her 48th with her!

29 comments:

Anna Lefler said...

Bwah! Yer killin' me with the phlegm! Har!

I just about plotzed when I read this post.

:^) Anna

amelia bedelia said...

maybe my neighbors will think i'm jewish, since i'm not decorating the outside of the house this year. yours sound so much easier!

Yaya said...

I love your account of the history. Makes it very interesting and actually kept my attention!

Hula's Secret Blog said...

So...this is my one persona-my "Secret Blog"

Yaya said...

And here's my other personality (no, I'm not crazy....I think...I don't know...maybe...Lol!).

no, this is the blog I started first that all my family and friends read and then I realized I had other stuff I wanted to blog about but couldn't because everyone I knew reads this one, so I started Hula's blog. Yaya is my nickname in the real world and Hula is my nickname when my hubby and I are fooling around. My Real name is Alicia!

Lula! said...

Best. Post. Ever.

You are clearly what has been missing from my life. I feel sad for those in the world who do not have their very own Jewish wine expert who parents two girls, cracks me up on a daily basis, and actually LISTENS when I beg her for information that I cannot get from Sex and the City.

You rock my world. You're even better than Adam Sandler.

Cristin said...

That's it. I'm converting. Wait. What am I converting FROM? Oh hell.

Love how you represented your fellow Mass-holes with the "wicked long time ago"

nikkicrumpet said...

Hey...if I don't decorate does that make me Jewish? Cuz I'm thinking "no decorations" and "8 days of presents" sounds like a pretty good deal!

TattooedMinivanMom said...

TAG! You is it!

Weith Kick said...

Thanks for the history lesson. I know nothing of Hanaukah, I don't even think I know how to spell it right. But I agree with you that I look like your weird Uncle Murray and I don't even know what he looks like. Meshuguna! I didn't spell that right, did I?

jill jill bo bill said...

That made me cry laughing!!! And I am with Amy. Since we really don't feel like ceebrating the first Christmas without our daddy, I am just hoping people think I am also Jewish. Then maybe also they will stop asking for donations. My Jewish uncle swears people don't ask the Jewish folk for donations. Is that true? Cuz' I may seriously need to switch religions...

Scary Mommy said...

That was awesome. And I've spent way to long trying to come up with some witty Yiddish comment, but I couldn't-- you said it all!

And jill jill bo bill, we get hit up too. Not to worry. But you should still hop on board. :)

Mama Dawg said...

Oh, my. Consider me edumacated on one of many Jewish holidays.

That was terrific!

NJDecorator said...

Being married to a Christian makes December a big mishegas. We decorate the house in many different way. We do Hunakkah big and Christmas little (for the hubby only).

But it does keep the peace.

Nancy said...

As an n.j. I totally laughed out loud at this. Especially the {{crickets}} hehehehehe

The Blonde Duck said...

I am edumacated now.

Fannie said...

Similarly I can tell you that Easter is the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox. And similarly…{{crickets}}. Oy!

Kristin said...

Loved that post..I didn't know all that about the Jewish faith, very cool! :) and you are hilarious!

bejewell said...

This is my first visit to your blog and I am leaving with a new appreciation for and understanding of the Jewish faith.

Also, a killer craving for latkes.

Auds at Barking Mad said...

OMG this is brilliant! My mum is Jewish and she would LOVE this! If I love it, then she REALLY will!

And with your account of the history, it was much easier to follow along, than my mother droning along, every once in a while in Hebrew, every once is a while tossing in a Yiddish phrase, whilst I nodded off!

Linked from Bejewell's place and I'll definitely be back!

for a different kind of girl said...

Can you maybe ship me some latkes?

:)

Mariah said...

I had to read this twice because I was crying from laughter, plus I was taking notes.

Thank you for the lesson.

You know the cool part about snowmen is that all religions can use them for decorating. The only thing they represent is winter... Just an FYI

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Oh my GOSH!! That was an awesome post!! I remember when i worked in a gift wrap department - we had 2 blue themed papers for Chaunnaahhaahhahha (I can't spell it) gifts. I think someone requested it once....

I'm actually really interested in learning about Jewish Holidays and traditions. I feel that as a Christian, my Jewish heritage is something to embrace.

Speaking of work and Jewish Holidays... I worked for 2 Jewish guys, a father and his so-very-in-the-closet-gay-son. They would always leave me in charge of the office on Jewish holidays, which they took off, and then they would also take the Christan Holiday's too... nice trick.

Gina @ Six in the Country said...

You crack me up, like always!

Candid Carrie said...

This is good. My other source of information is Adam Sandler.

Heather said...

Funniest post EVER. And educational too!

La Pixie said...

Hi. I was under you at SITS roll call today. Good thing, because I never knew the "real" deal about Hanukkah. (did I even spell it right??)

one thing though, the Jehovahs Witnesses will also be out and about at Chinese restaurants on Christmas. I know, because my Boyfriends family does that.

one serious question: are the people with blue and white Christmas lights actually celebrating Hanaukkah? or Christmas? cause now Im confused.

Kat said...

I am laughing my nj tookas off over here. I think I was Jewish in a former life. Because I swear that I know tons of yiddish. I can make that plegmy noise (of course that could be due to years of taking Russian). And I have this affinity for menorahs. I'd collect them. If it wasn't kinda creepy :-)

Kelly said...

LMAO! Thanks for the instructional. I am a BIG fan of Sirius radio and I received their holiday e-mail blast advertising the holiday music channel. Hannukah radio begins on Dec 21...What do they play on Hannukah radio? I can only think of 2 songs: Dreidel & Adam Sandler's Hannukah song....