The week just flew by. And by the way, if you haven’t been outside, or live in California, winter started this week. I even bought a ridiculous looking hat!
Got a bunch of extra chocolate gelt from Hanukkah? Don’t know how to get rid of it? Try making your own spiced hot chocolate!
Jewish Aramaic was the vernacular of Jews in the Land of Israel in the first century. It is still spoken by Jewish Kurds today.
There are many different levels of charity. Maimonides *you remember him) made a list. Check out his ladder of tzedakah.
Christmas. It’s coming quick. Here’s everything you need to know about Jews and Christmas.
“If a man learns two paragraphs of the law in the morning and two in the evening and is engaged in his work all day, it is considered as though he had fulfilled the Torah in its entirety.”
–Tanhuma Beshallakh #20
Find more Wise Fridays wisdom on MJL.
Today is a fast day, and it’s a weird one.
The Tenth of Tevet, according to MyJewishLearning (you can read more here), is the day when the prophet
Yeheskel, together with the Jewish community forced into Babylonian exile, received news of the destruction of Jerusalem: “In the 12th year of our exile, on the fifth day of the 10th month, a fugitive came to me from Jerusalem and reported, ‘The city has fallen’ ” (Yeheskel 33, verse 21). The Babylonian Talmud in Rosh Hashanah tractate 18B even purports that the fast should be held on the fifth of Tevet and not on the 10th: “And they equated receipt of the report of the destruction with that of Jerusalem’s burning.”
Normally, fast days almost never come on Fridays. I’d actually thought it was a halacha that you couldn’t fast right before Shabbat — and, in some cases, it really is; other minor fast days, like the Fast of Esther, get moved to Thursday or Sunday when they fall out on Friday. But Tevet is an exception, if a rare one (the last time this happened was 14 years ago). The reason is that the Tenth of Tevet, the date itself, is called “the very day,” according to Yeheskel himself (who we like to call Ezekiel).
My latest Jewish nightmare came yesterday afternoon, via my father-in-law. At the end of a totally unrelated email, as a sort of throwaway P.S., he wrote: “Have an easy fast and spare a thought for us who have to wait till after 9pm to break it.”
Now, he lives in Australia, where (as you might know) it’s summer right now — meaning that the sun sets later. So, where a fast day in America might end at 5 p.m., there it’s going to go way into the night. Yesterday, I was sort of totally spazzing, and only the good graces of our good Editorial Fellow Jeremy Moses kept me alive. “Want to go out to lunch?” he said.
We did. To an amazingly luscious, colorful, and totally explode-our-stomachs-huge Indian buffet. Jeremy did two trips; I did three. Whereupon we shlepped back to work, stuffed ourselves into our chairs (I barely fit) and I read the email from my father-in-law.
And I felt my stomach retch. I feared of tasting that delicious lunch all over again. How could I have forgotten a fast day?!
Of course, you already know the moral. Part 1: Yesterday wasn’t a fast day, it’s today. Part 2: Australia is something like 16 hours ahead of us. My father-in-law emailed me at about 4 a.m. (which, for him, is already mid-morning). And I’m still not perfect, but I’m working on it. We all deserve a second chance. Even if it happens in that Groundhog Day-like way of experiencing the same day twice, courtesy of Australian time.
Christmas is a weird time of year for me. On the one hand, I truly and honestly do not care about the holiday in the slightest. I’ve never been jealous of people who celebrate it. I don’t particularly care for the music and decorations. Really, the only thing I’m excited for is my half-birthday on the 26th.
On the other hand, it’s impossible to not care about Christmas. It’s everywhere. Every day, in order to walk from our office to the subway, I have to go by the big Macy’s store in Manhattan’s Herald Square. And it’s a scene. Christmas trees; Santas; music on repeat blasting onto the street. And people seem to be pretty into it. So into it, that some girl walked right into me yesterday, dropping her phone on the ground (I didn’t stick around to see if I broke it…oops!).
I enjoy seeing people enjoy Christmas, but it really doesn’t intimidate me that much. Hanukkah was nice and all, but I know that it will never compare to Christmas–and I’m cool with that. The Christians can keep their Christmas. We have Yom Kippur!
Last year, we made a video with comedian Ophira Eisenberg (that has since become a running series on our site–with a new video in the works) about her complicated relationship with Santa as a Jew growing up in Calgary. Though her story does not relate to me that much on a personal level, I think a lot of people do feel the same way as her.
Do you ever pack the kids’ clothes, pack the stack of diapers, pack the toys and the toiletries and the tchochkes and then hop into your packed-full car and think to yourself, with a sense of growing dread…I forgot the kids?
This Hanukkah season, I helped make a bunch of awesome videos (including one that very embarrassingly, but very funnily, depicts the MJL staff drinking at work). But I completely forgot this song, which is one of my favorite songs, which I also helped write (although it also involves some awesome kids, and about 90% of the song is the very talented children’s performer Mista Cookie Jar).
It’s true that I am pretty egotistical, but the truth is, I hate the sound of my voice. And on video, too. Ninety percent of the time I look like Pinocchio with the strings cut off–and with the Jewish nose, too. The fact that we managed to create a song that I can honestly think is cute and funny and danceable and where I’m not just cringing for 3 and a half minutes is, well, I’m pretty proud of it.
Even if — gasp – Hanukkah has been over for almost a week now.
But here it is. I promise, you can still rock out to it if you want to, and Hanukkah Harry won’t come after you. Hey, it doesn’t even reference dreidels or latkes or any examples of Hanukkah kitsch. Unlike, ahem, some other Hanukkah songs.
The good news is that my Christmas song–made with JDub Records’ very on Josh Lamar–is way still in season. Which means that there will be sibling rivalry–and sibling jealousy–but isn’t there always? (A bit of a warning: There’s some strong language in this one.)
Merry something or other, folks. And thanks. I promise, next blog entry will not be about me. Maybe I’ll even talk about breastfeeding or something.
Crossposted from, oh, this really cool parenting blog that you should know about.
Isn’t the holiday season wonderful? Don’t you just love the beauty of it all? Or actually don’t you secretly hate it and feel empty inside whenever you hear people singing Jingle Bells?
Maybe it’s just me, but I always get the feeling that those are the only two options. You can love Christmas/Hanukkah/New Years and the sweet spirit that comes with it, or you can hate it because it makes you feel cold and alone. Generally, I am totally on board with love it or hate it things. I am one of those annoying people who either loves or hates almost everything. But, um, when it comes to the month of December and the holidays that come in it…meh. I am completely apathetic.
Last year I was in Suriname for Christmas, and I spent the day hanging out with this random guy. At the end of the day I was like, “Hey, it was nice to meet you” and he was like, “I’m so glad we spent Christmas together.” Whoops. I had both forgotten it was Christmas, and forgotten Christmas was a big deal.
I got my haircut today, and when the woman with the scissors asked me if I like the holidays I shrugged (carefully). I just don’t care. And she looked confused.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m Jewish that I don’t care, though that seems plausible to me. I don’t feel left out at Christmas, it just doesn’t mean anything to me. And honestly, New Years? I can’t believe it’s a holiday that matters at all to anyone.
Whenever I meet someone who hates the holidays I want to be like, “Hey, come over on Christmas. We’ll play Connect Four and I will teach you how to make chili.” And whenever I meet someone who is crazy-go-nuts about the holidays I want to be like, “Really? You know Santa isn’t real, right?”
I’ve celebrated Festivus before. I’ve done it all–the feats of strength; sat around a metal poll; aired my grievances. But doing all of that, I never once mistook the holiday for Jewish ritual.
That really helps explain why this story didn’t work out in the end.
Malcolm Alarmo King is a convicted drug dealer currently serving time at Theo Lacy Jail in California. Trying to keep in shape, he refused to eat the salami that he was being served. Instead his lawyer arranged for him to eat kosher meals (which somehow are healthier?). But when a judge told him that he could only eat the specially arranged meals under religious grounds, King argued that he couldn’t eat the salami because of Festivus.
Just take a minute to take that in.
The judge offered him a way out. You don’t have to eat the salami. Just tell us you follow a religion and you’re in. AND YOU CHOOSE FESTIVUS?!?!?!??!
I’ll admit that I don’t have that many other alternatives that work in this case. But I do have a full proof plan. Why don’t you just say you are, I dunno, off the top of my head, JEWISH?
You deserve to eat the salami.
If you are going to go onto a show like the People’s Court, you better have two things going for you–a need to have your fifteen minutes of fame and the truth.
Sadly, for this couple that was recently on the show, they didn’t really have either.
The clip features a couple who was suing their dry cleaner’s owners because they accidentally washed a $3000 sheitl. Though, if you watch the video, it gets a little more tricky than that–namely that they are liars (you’ll have to watch the video for details).
They also don’t seem to care about their fifteen minutes of fame because they asked the show not to use their last names. Maybe they knew before how embarrassing this would end of being for them.
Seriously, don’t mess with the People’s Court.
Oh, man. I love Jerusalem. There’s something about the agony of every shot in this video that gives me chills, or a warm satisfied sigh — or makes me quake in my bones. Just watch this video and tell me that the shot of the Kotel at night doesn’t blow you away.
There’s a war going on, director Liz Nord writes, “between the rapidly growing ultra-religious and the majority moderate and secular communities for control of the city.”
Liz Nord, the filmmaker who made our awesome What Is a Sukkah? video, is trying to produce her second feature, The Battle for Jerusalem. There are five days left in her campaign to raise $10,000. On the website IndieGoGo, she’s raised nearly $5,000 so far — but, if she doesn’t raise the rest of the money by Friday, then she doesn’t get any of it.
Her movie is more than scenes of Jerusalem. She’s working to document the cultural renaissance happening in the new wave of artists and activists who are working to keep Jerusalem open to everyone. Go here, read about her documentary, and give her a few bucks if you can — there are rewards, too, if you can afford them!