Megali - adjective, noun - adjective 1. great or big in Greek -noun 1.. A nickname derived from my first and middle names

Thursday, December 22, 2011

From the outside looking in - my perspective on Hanukkah

As of now, this is my favorite Hanukkah memory.  Slim was so proud of the menorah he made.
Happy Hanukkah!  I am not Jewish.  But R is.  And Slim and Curly are. 

I don't know what I am now. Aside from an amalgamation of beliefs.  I do know that I love God. Who R likes to envision as Mr. Wizard. And I know I love learning about and celebrating Jewish holidays and that doing so has enhanced my life. I'm thankful we are raising the boys Jewish, but I will respect their choices if they decide not to be. R and I joke that they can be anything - just dont let them be punks with their jeans belted around their upper thighs and their damn underwear showing. Excuse me, I think my #getoffmylawn! is showing.

I gotta admit, this picture helps me see R's point.  Mr. Wizard does look rather God-like here.

I grew up as a Presbyterian.  We still celebrate Christmas in our household.  In a secular way and as a way to teach them about my side of the family.  They know that they have Jewish grandparents and Christian grandparents and aunt, uncles, and cousin.  The best way I ever heard how we do things was described as follows: kids are smart enough to know that when they go to a friend's birthday party, it is not their birthday.  But it's still fun to attend.  Likewise, kids are able to recognize that Christmas may not be their holiday, but it is important to people in their life, and therefore nice to share in the festivities.

I'm doing a lot of reflecting on the holiday thanks to Hanukkah Hoopla, a collection of 16 Jewish bloggers' reflections and ideas.  "Each ... agreed to write something Hanukkah-ishy.
Taken together, you will see [they] represent a broad range of Jewish experience. Some ... are Reform. Others are Conservative. Some are Orthodox. Some ... have converted to Judaism.  Two ... are rabbis!  Some ... keep kosher; others, not so much."  Whether you are Jewish or not, please be sure to read each day.  I've found their experiences helpful, funny and touching in turn.  Plus, there are 16 chances to win a #HanukkahHoopla gift pack. 

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On Twitter, @SmartBitches shared how the shamas, or "helper" candle used to light the menorah (the tall one in the middle and why there are nine candle spots when there are only eight nights of Hanukkah) has an extra purpose - reminding us that we can and should help one another every day.  It is messages like this that have caused me, an outsider, at times truly on the periphery, at others actively participating, to embrace Judaism.  Strangely and funnily enough, I think my religious beliefs, what I believe God has commanded of us, can be summed up in a quote from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, "Be excellent to each other."

And so, we try to incorporate tzedakah into each holiday and our lives in general.  One night of every Hanukkah in our household is dedicated to giving back.  This year, Emmett, our second dog and newest shelter pet, inspired our charity recipient: Heartland SPCA. 

There is so much beauty in the world, if only we could see it.  I've been married to R for nearly nine years, with him for nearly 14.  Without him, my eyes would never have been opened to the beauty inherent in Judaism and the opportunity to have a dynamic and growing faith in God.  It is the greatest gift he has ever given me.

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