Category: Jews in the New World

Happy Hanukkah in Hebrew – the Delicate Equilibrium

What is Hannukah? The answer is not so simple anymore, for, like many things in this day and age, Hanukkah has adopted many meanings that tend to shroud its true essence. For some, Hanukah is a time to flock to the superstores hoping to grab the last mini-iPod before other undeserving shoppers get to it first. So what is Happy Hanukkah in Hebrew – the Delicate Equilibrium?

For others, it’s a jolly time to let our clothes be permanently permeated with the hypnotic scent of frying potatoes from the kitchen. Most every Jew in America can view Hanukkah as part of a dandy mix in the Holiday Season — a lovely little term that personifies the good-spirited feeling this time of year. Anyway, in 2018, Hanukkah (Hebrew for ‘dedication’) is the Jewish Festival of Lights that starts on Sunday, Dec. 2 at sundown and ends on Monday, Dec. 10, at sundown.

The holidays — Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and let’s not forget Chinese New Year — are all rolled into one spicy and well-flavored latke. In the United States, wonderful diversity at times may give way to a loss of identity. Each holiday madly mashes into a Boy Scout goulash, losing any of its original distinct flavors.

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Cheshvan – a Cure for your Post-Chag Hangover

This Hebrew month has the unfortunate nickname Mar Cheshvan, or bitter Cheshvan. (The word Mar means bitter). With the holidays behind us, we now face a long stretch of time unbroken by festivals of any kind.

The next holiday won’t come until late November when we will celebrate  Thanskgivakkuh. Without a joyous festival, poor Cheshvan is known as a bitter month. It’s the only Jewish month without a significant feast or fast. So let’s take a closer look at Cheshvan – a cure for your post-Chag hangover…

On the one hand, balancing our regular personal and business responsibilities with the slew of chagim each fall can add stress to our lives. Now that stress is over.  On the other hand, knowing that these special days are over can be slightly depressing—we have a whole year to wait before that degree of joyous spiritual intensity will come again.

The beginning of Cheshvan is like a giant Jewish Monday morning. Do you have the Monday morning blues? Or did you let out a giant sigh of relief after Simhat Torah? But by now, I feel ready for Cheshvan. That is to say, I find normality alluring at this point in the calendar.

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Jewish American Princess

How has the Jewish American Princess evolved?

“Girls”, the popular bur critically acclaimed HBO series is representing a totally new age for Jewish American Princesses (JAPs). Right from the start, it is obvious that Shoshanna Shapiro is the stereotype Jewish American Princess. As soon as she is on screen, she shows her flawlessly coiffed hair and demonstrates her pink fashionable Haute Couture tracksuit, there no doubt about that identity.

This impression is further strengthened when she admits that her, apparently filthy rich parents, are furnishing the $2,100 per month rent for her stylish Nolita apartment. The HBO show “Girls” has four protagonists and Shoshanna is one of these. Her role really portrays the latest incarnation of the long-running JAP stereotype.

She keeps on complaining that all her outfits are “at least half a year old, has the word “obvi” more often in her mouth than should ever be allowed, and she’s constantly laying around in her oh-so-plush apartment like a spoiled brat. In the first season’s 7th episode, she (accidentally?) mixes up crack and weed when an acquaintance named Ray is pretty much fed up with nothing else to but watching over her.

Shoshanna, who is apparently pretty high) and Ray just have met but the guy can already very well tell what kind of spoiled brat she is. You can hear him say “I’m in no way your f*cking daycare, dear JAP,” and you can’t blame him.

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Jewish Teenage Temptation

“He was getting on my nerves, you know what I mean?” she said. “He dropped out of high school and now he wants to get his GED…” Do this sort of things sound a bit familiar? Well, it’s all about Jewish Teenage Temptation…

“Um, yes … of course, I totally understand what you are saying,” I answered back … as if I really had a clue.

As my friend continued to unravel every detail of her “dating life” I could not stop thinking about how miserable this girl was. All she could think about was boys!

I still don’t understand why my friend chose to speak about this to me — a girl who is completely against teenage dating — and no, it’s not because I attend an all-girls high school. By the way, did I mention that my friend just recently turned 16?

Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those anti-boys, anti-socializing girls. I actually have a great group of friends that includes both girls and boys. I also hang out with my friends; I go to the movies with them. They are all really great.

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Pride in being Jewish

Ye… Yele… Yeled,” Oliver looked up at me with pride in his eyes. He knew he had read the word perfectly. He began to smile, satisfied with his own accomplishment. I too began to smile. Overwhelmed with gratification, I realized it was this feeling that drags me out of bed before 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings. This is about pride in being Jewish.

Oliver, his sister, Daphne, and I participate in the Jewish Youth Encounter Program. “The program was designed to instill in our students a love of and pride in being Jewish,” described Debby Rapps, program director.

Founded in 1986 by Carl and Sylvia Freyer, the program is open to all children in the third through seventh grades, from public or private schools and affiliated or unaffiliated homes. The “big siblings” as the tutors are called — mostly juniors and seniors attending local yeshiva high schools — are specifically matched to best fit the needs of each child in the program.
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Yom and Thanksgiving

November — a crisp, chilly month when the cold begins to settle in for the winter. The trees so majestically hued in shades of yellow, orange, and red begin to lose their splendor along with their leaves. But November isn’t just a time of natural elegance and display. It’s also an American period of thanksgiving. So let’s talk a bit more about Yom and Thanksgiving.

Every year in the United States the last Thursday in November is designated as a day of appreciation and thanks. This day is nationally recognized as Thanksgiving Day. A day of family gatherings, turkey and gravy, pumpkin pie, parades, and NFL football — Thanksgiving is hard not to enjoy.

But how did it all get started? We all know about the pilgrims and Indians, but how did a turkey barbeque among our ancestors and their neighbors turn into a full-fledged, nationally observed holiday?

During the American Revolution, the first Continental Congress proposed Thanksgiving as a national holiday. They borrowed the idea from a group of pilgrims and Indians who celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 to give thanks for their first successful harvest. Although the holiday never became official, many who favored the American Revolution adopted Thanksgiving and it soon spread throughout the nation.

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Jewish Teenage Temptation

At Yeshivah of Flatbush High School, something, or someone for that matter, stands out. Among the teenage boys and girls dressed in every bright color imaginable hiking up the five flights of exasperating stairs is a girl dressed solely in morbid black. An unorthodox orthodox teen. Black shirt, black skirt, black shoes, black arm warmers, black bracelets, black everything.

Fourteen-year-old Malka Wallick dresses in the Gothic style, a style usually not associated with Judaism. Although the term “Goth” was first used to describe a type of architecture in the early 12th century, it was later used to describe the style of literature used by writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Shirley Jackson, a style pertaining to bereavement.

To find out more, I asked her some questions. When did you start dressing like this and why? Continue reading “Jewish Teenage Temptation”