Monthly Archives: November 2013

8 Crazy Hours

comp_holiday48__01__630x420So, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.  Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.  What came first, the chicken or the egg?  What holiday is more important? What holiday means more?  What’s the big deal?

What we are seeing this year, the overlapping of these 2 festive holidays is something we have never seen before.  How so?  The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide every 133 years.  Subsequently the last time it would have happened is 1861.   However, President Abraham Lincoln  only formally established Thanksgiving  in 1863.  So indeed this never has happened before.  Calculations indicate that if the calendars would remain as they are it would happen again on or around the year 79, 811.   That is far enough from now in a world some feel is heading towards self-destruction for me to say it will indeed never happen again.

So is this just a cool thing that we can have fun with, or does it have a deeper meaning?  Well I guess that would be up to everyone’s personal perspective to determine if it is or is not.  I’ve been thinking about it and have come up with some of my own personal conclusions.

My birthday is January 2.  Therefore throughout my adult life the parties and festivities that have surrounded my birthday have always been somewhat diluted by News Years Eve and Day.  Factor in the fact that I was born the day after my mother’s 40th birthday, and you’ll understand that I am no stranger to mixing special days and events.   Also, with Hanukkah often falling at the end of December, I have received plenty of “combined” birthday/Hanukkah gifts.  So what are we combining on Thursday November 28, 2013 more than anything else?  The easy answer and one that applies to basically everyone celebrating both holidays, is food and or alcohol.  The deeper answer is the giving of thanks to God.

So why would I ruin a perfectly pleasant post with deep religious statements about gratitude towards the heavens?  Well isn’t that supposed to be what we are really going to do on Thursday?  Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights as it celebrates the miracle of how one day’s worth of oil stayed lit for 8 days in the holy temple of Jerusalem.  However, part of the celebration of Hanukkah revolves around the Maccabees and their courageous battles in defense of the Jewish people against Roman aggression.   Which, to paraphrase the old joke, makes Hanukkah similar to every other Jewish Holiday.  They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.

So Hanukkah is also a holiday in which to give thanks.  Of course one of the ways we Jews celebrate this is by frying a potato in a pan, the latke, and making it so oily you COULD actually light a candle for 8 days.  But whoever said being thankful had anything to do with eating healthy?  Personally I prefer turkey over latkes but don’t expect to get a reprieve because the holidays fall together.  Oh well.  Over the course of 8 days let the chips, or in this case latkes, fall where they may. 

As I think about it I realize that nothing will really be all that different this Thursday.  I’ll still watch football, still eat turkey, have a drink or 2, and enjoy the company of loved ones.  Considering the amount of down time in a day and the amount of time spent sleeping, we’re really only talking about 8 hours or so that even matter in this discussion anyway.   The difference will only really take place at the end of the day Thursday, when in most years everyone is too stuffed, too relaxed or too drunk to move or even talk, this year we’ll have to stand up, say a prayer and light some candles.    Or if we eat late enough and light the candles early enough reverse the order.  And oh yes, we will continue showing gratitude to God.   Who knows?  Maybe this double whammy of thankfulness will be a catalyst for those who normally don’t realize what they have to be thankful for.  If nothing else, we’ll certainly eat well.

Have a happy and healthy….whatever.

Happy and healthy all the way.  Oh what fun it is to…Oh wait. That’s that other holiday.


Is Never Again Here?

swedeA friend recently brought this story out of Sweden to my attention, referring to it as a “Spiritual Holocaust”.  This is my response and why I agree with this statement and its importance to the Jewish people worldwide.

Jews have been victims of various types of holocausts throughout their history.  For obvious reasons the most commonly spoken of holocaust, the one referred to as “The Holocaust” was the one perpetuated by the Nazis against the Jewish people.  However, some reports have even indicated that Stalin came close or maybe even surpassed Hitler in Jewish extermination.  Jews were wiped out in the pogroms, they were massacred by Christians during the crusades, and by Muslims throughout the ages.  Holocausts take on different forms.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is fighting today to avoid a Holocaust that would take mere minutes to happen and slaughter millions of Jews.  We need to learn from the past but not get stuck in the past.  The actions of the future do not always mirror the past.  We’ve never had a powerful Jewish government concerned about the well-being and safety of Jews worldwide and with a military designed to protect them.  But make no mistake.  This story out of Sweden is very telling.  In 1976 I visited Malmo, Sweden and was struck by the tolerance and warmth of the people.  Today Malmo is famous for its anti-Semitism.  Some anti-Semites base their prejudice on ideology, while others base it on fear.  To make a statement that they don’t want multiculturalism when their hatred for Jews is rooted in their fear of the rising Muslim culture in their society is nothing but cowardice and hypocrisy.  This is how it starts, and when you read the history of “The Holocaust” it does not begin with the murder of the first Jew, it begins with the formation of the structure and environment that lead to the murder of 6 millions Jews.  If you wait to apply “Never Again” to when the killing starts, you may have already lost.