Friday, January 29, 2010


And now for a Xmas leftover:

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny
Then a ha'penny will do
And if you haven't got a ha'penny
Then god bless you!

What I'd like to know is: Back then, did they use Cutco or Ginsu scissors to cut all those pennies in ha'?


An interesting issue came up during the "holiday season," when a coworker was Queen of Decorating for her group's seasonal party. She had put together a lovely Xmas tree, but was warned that some party attendees might be offended. The Queen turned to her trusty Jewish advisors, yours truly and mutual friend Hank Azaria, and asked what we thought of this predicament. Hank and I were in agreement that the tree would be fine.

The fact is, these parties are called something besides "Christmas" parties to be inclusive, and that's very nice. But Christmas parties are really what they are. That's fine; as non-Xmas-celebrators we're happy to celebrate with you. It would be virtually impossible to accommodate everyone's religious affiliation when planning such an event, and it's better not to try. Some Jews will hope that you will have some sort of Chanukah decorations as well, and could be offended if you don't, but since this is not a Chanukah party I see no reason to do this, and don't really find it appropriate. Keep it simple. In the same vein, I am not offended if you wish me a Merry Christmas. People get all embarrassed and apologize when they "slip" and wish a Jew a Merry Christmas. Why? We appreciate the good wishes. It's fine. I may not speak for all Jews when I say this, and if you feel differently, please comment below.


And now, on to the real nitty gritty.

I should be posting here more often, because I've succeeded in attracting a number of beautiful and intelligent readers (you!) who will abandon me if there's never anything new here. Not purposely, of course, it's just how things are out here.

It is mostly lack of time that's keeping me away, but there's something else. I have been wanting to dress up this blog with a new purpose.

I was brought up observant; a Conservative Jew. My father was our congregation's cantor. We kept kosher. When I was attending public school, my parents took me out of school on holidays. We went to synagogue on those holidays, and on many of the Sabbaths. I transferred to Jewish private school along with my sisters. I am fairly fluent in Hebrew. I spent a semester in Israel. I went to Jewish summer camps. I had truly memorable Shabbat (Sabbath) experiences at camp, in Israel, at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and at a Yeshiva University-sponsored program.

I didn't think this would ever change. At High Holidays, we would look around at all the "once-a-year" Jews and feel proud that we weren't like that. Nevertheless, quite a bit of this life slipped away from me slowly as I moved away from home, started making my own decisions, changing my priorities.

Love for my faith was always there. Whenever I was neglecting a mitzvah, or eating something forbidden, I was aware of it. But now, in trying to reenergize this part of my life, trying to make sure that my children love Judaism the way I do, and care about it, I've run into a number of obstacles; time, money, attitudes, and other impediments.

I have been looking for a way to share all this here, and to chronicle my efforts. I've seen many times how supportive the people inside the computer (now inside the phone too!) can be. But this issue is so emotionally charged for me, and I'm afraid of being judged. I don't care if you criticize my really hot showers or my questionable parenting. But about this, I care. I'm also worried about inadvertently offending someone else.

On the other hand, if I tell you about this, you'll hold me accountable. On Five Full Plates there are five bloggers each committing to losing 10 pounds in the first 10 weeks of 2010. If one or more of them don't, we'll all know about it. They will be that much more motivated because their readers are keeping watch.

This subject isn't really all that funny at first glance, but then, with inspiration, or good drugs, I might be able to work around that. I'll definitely go off on entertaining tangents.

I've already said too much. I need to go lie down, or eat chocolate, or something. Talk amongst yourselves while I'm gone.


Doctor Julie said...

I'm OK with the tree, but I want the Hannukah decorations, too. "The holidays" have become a time for everyone to celebrate, and when it's only a Xmas party, I do feel excluded if it's at work, which is by definition for "all of us." Private Xmas party that you invite me to? No Hannukah decorations needed. (I have yet to put out an Easter basket for a Passover seder, myself.)

As for wishing me a "Merry Xmas," I agree, no problem; I wish people a Happy Hannukah even if they're not Jewish...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about the trying to get back to your roots thing. I would love to be able to do that too as I routinely have to drag one son to Junior Congregation while the other one stays at home.

Yet, I still slept in today and did not take my "not really sick" son to his Friday night service after working hard all week.

MS said...

Keep the faith! It's not easy, but it is rewarding. Depends on your circles as well. You need to get one to cross over into the Jewish part.
Not to worry about the tree - I agree, wish them a happy hanukah and eat, drink, and be merry!

The Calico Cat said...

My attitude on Christmas (every holiday actually) is if it doesn't harm me then I don't care. If you want to wish me "Glad Tidings" then so be it.

On the other subject - you may not be alone. I felt so "bad" on Saturday night - we read "Shalom Shabbat," but did not actually make Havdallah....

cotopaxis said...

On the Xmas tree bit, and the winter holidays in general: I have no problem when people wish me a merry xmas. I wish them a happy Hanukkah. Oddly, that irritates some people, as if they thought I were being snippy, curt, etc. Not at all. If the reason they are wishing me a merry xmas is because of their own enjoyment of the holiday, why wouldn't I express my enjoyment of Hanukkah by wishing them the same?

On the second point, the "nitty gritty." I really enjoyed this post because you opened up about something we can all pretty much recognize, whether Jewish or not. But time is the only obstacle I understand from the list of obstacles, because the more of it I let slip away, the less I have remaining. Guilty of that every day.

This is probably one of the best subjects for funniness. How else to account for all the Jewish comedians?

就是這 said...
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Shtuey said...

So you know how I feel about getting back to Jewishness. Let's face it, it was a lot easier being Shomer Shabbat at camp and in Israel. Here is galut, not so much, like when you work at a job that you don't get out of in time to make it home before Shabbat even starts. And it was easier being connected when we had our parents providing the kosher home, lighting the candles on Friday nights, getting us to shul. So now you are the one who will do the juggling and struggling to make sure the kids have that feeling of connectedness and won't have to think about it because you are showing them the way. And you will.

It's definitely meaning a change in the way of doing things. I'm getting up at a ridiculous hour just so I can get tefillin on and still make it to work reasonably on time. The challenges are no doubt greater with kids. So when you have a quiet moment, daven, and ask Hashem to help you find the strength to get 'er done.

You can do this, and you know I'm behind you all the way, and going through this process in my own way. You ain't alone kid.

cotopaxis said...

On Stu's comment: "Juggling and struggling"--le mot juste. It's the perfect phrase for this topic.