Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
After spending two years as ISJL Education Fellows serving the South, fellowship alumni often leave for places near and far for new adventures. Those of us who served as 2013-2015 Fellows went our separate ways back in June – but for Hanukkah, we’re reconvening to become part of a tradition that some other former Fellows initiated: Lighting the lights together, wherever we are! Here’s where each of us will be calling in from this year…
Alachua: This year, I’ll be the only one of the 2013-2015 ISJL Education Fellows celebrating Hanukkah in Jackson – but it won’t be too weird, since we’re going to include the light of computer screens in this year’s Festival of Lights! Yes, like other former Fellows before us, we will be utilizing technology and creating a new memory as we gather on Google Hangout and light our chanukiyot together – in Jackson, Mississippi; Providence, Rhode Island; Brighton, Massachusetts; and Jerusalem, Israel. I have many wonderful holiday memories, but I can’t wait for this new one to light up my world down in Jackson.
Allison: I am spending Hanukkah in my hometown, Boston – but I’m bringing some Southern flavor with me. Last year, I participated in my first Latke vs. Hamentaschen debate during a community visit, and this year I am bringing this fabulous tradition to my student pulpit. (BTW, Latkes are the clear winner). I am also looking forward to teaching my high school students about the story behind the story of the Maccabees! I am so excited to be able to celebrate the holiday with my parents and sister, but I miss my Fellow Family, too.
Lex: This year I find myself (back) in Providence, Rhode Island for Hanukkah. I say “back” because this is where I lived directly prior to working at the ISJL, while I was in college. The weather here during December is a smidgeon colder than it was down in Jackson, to be sure. But our holiday has been pretty fantastic so far regardless. I have enjoyed lighting the lights each night with my girlfriend Valerie and our cat Peeve (especially since Peeve has a spiffy new dreidel shirt that he enjoys wearing to fully immerse in the festivities), and a number of folks are having holiday parties that we’ll be attending! The first night, in honor of the holiday’s theme of fried and oily foods, we had some delicious fried pickles — hard to find up here in Providence — but I of course flashed back to Mississippi, where that delicacy can be found in more restaurants than not. Mmmm fried pickles.
I’m excited to spend my holidays in Israel this year! All of my classes this week are focusing on the Festival of Lights and the laws that surround it. I’ve also taken it upon myself to sample all of the fancy sufganiyot (jelly donuts) that grace the windows of every bakery. Latkes are not the popular Hanukkah food of choice here. And yesterday I saw my first dreidel with a pey on it! In Israel, dreidels have a pey instead of a shin, because a great miracle happened po, here, instead of sham, there. Keep your eyes peeled for another post from me about my recent small-world Southern moment in Jerusalem. In the meantime, chag Chanukah samei-ach (Happy Hanukkah).
Where will you be lighting your lights? Tell us in the comments below!
Pronounced: DRAY-dul, Origin: Yiddish, a spinning top, with four sides, each marked with a different Hebrew letter (nun, gimel, hay and shin), it is played with on Hanukkah.
Pronounced: KHAH-nuh-kah, also ha-new-KAH, an eight-day festival commemorating the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks and subsequent rededication of the temple. Falls in the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually corresponds with December.