The holiday of Chanukah is going splendidly so far (Baruch Hashem). We have had Chanukah party after party, get-together after get-together, and eaten home-made and store bought levivot ('latkes' for you Eastern European-type Yiddish folks) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts or "Bismarks" for you, uh, other folks. . .)
In addition, which actually was the highlight of the week, the sixth night of Chanukah--in Israel--it was the fifth day for us--we had the great treat of being with our children & grandchildren, albeit virtually, for their Chanukiyah lighting ceremony and songs. How, you ask? (thought you'd never).
Very simple: my younger son Nathaniel Blumenstein invited his brother, Mister Arnold Mayergi & his lovely wife Hardally & their baby sister Rambo to Jerusalem for that night's candle-lighting in their apartment (or flat, for you Europeans).
N.Blumenstein ( he can cook, a little like his Abba) had fried yummy levivot for the occasion, and all was ready. Then--ON went the webcams on both sides of the ocean, connected to their respective computers, and PRESTO! There were my kids, all three of them who lived in Israel, with one daughter-in-law (Noodles, N.B.s wife) and their two lovely children, Googles and Tiddly, the new baby, also Big Bro Mister Arnold (his wife Hardally couldn't come as she was home slightly ill; we missed her...), and the Bros' baby sister--complete with short M16 slung over her shoulder--Rambo.
Then, the ceremony: Younger Bro N. Blumenstein sang the brachot in a clear, beautiful voice, and we, Abba and Eema (who also are Saba & Savta) answered "Amen," across the ocean. . . then they all sang "Haneirot Halalu" in the niggun that I taught them many, many years ago and with which they grew up. We sang that melody every Chanukah, for over forty years, in harmony (when the kids were old enough to harmonize). Afterwards, they sang "Maoz Tzur" (yes, all 6 verses), and a song we used to sing, also from my old High School Alma Mater, in English: "He Struck the Traitor to the Earth."
I was praying that another, modern-Chanukah miracle would happen right then and there, de-materialize me in a flash and re-materialize me 7,000 miles to the East, right into N.'s living room in Jerusalem. I squeezed my eyes very very tightly and prayed. It didn't.
After the lighting, the blessings, the singing--they all sat down to eat those yummy levivot that N.B. made. Rambo tried to push one into the webcam but I couldn't taste it. Sigh.
It was wonderful seeing them and semi-participating. We should have been there.
Instead, we made our our Chanukah party that night with close friends in place of family. Hubby and I made our own yummy levivot, including my mother's (a"h) famous spinach latkes, a veritable melt-in-your-mouth artform. And, singlehandedly ('cause I didn't have any heshek...) Hubby made sufganiyot and injected them with jelly, using the new cake decorator he recently bought just for that purpose.
It's interesting, the gender role-reversal we have in our family: Hubby is the Chief Chef, CFO & Organizer, whilst LL is more the Torah Educator and Ritual Director/ChoirMeister. But hey, whatever works.
Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, and one family's little kids treated us to a choir and piano recital! Toys and food and sevivonim (dreidels) were strewn around; I still haven't cleaned everything up, I think because I still want to remember the warmth and the happiness (nah, it's because I'm lazy).
You know the old joke: Jewish holidays all boil down to the same theme: "*They tried to kill us, we won--Let's Eat!"
As long as we don't overdo it on the "EAT" part, we'll be OK. Happy Chanukah.
(cartoons by Jordan B. Gorfinkel as seen on JWR's site, here.)
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