I celebrated my first Hanukkah eight years ago, back before I converted to Judaism when I was really and truly a shiksa (aka a non-Jewish woman). I had studied Judaism a bit in college, but I didn’t have any practical experience when it came to Jewish food or holiday traditions. Meanwhile, my fiancé is as Jewish as they come. Needless to say, I was slightly out of my element.
I haven't posted anything lately, because since Purim, I've been working like a slave in ancient Egypt, cleaning the house for Passover.
It's an annual ritual -- one I dread and loathe.
Many people have written about a supposed "spiritual dimension" to this yearly drudgery. In exalted terms, they describe how removing every last crumb of hametz (leaven) from our houses prepares us to deeply experience the meaning of Passover.
The story of Chanukah revolves around two main points: The success of a small Jewish army over a large Assyrian one in a fight for religious freedom or, maybe more accurately, against assimilation and the miracle of the sole jar of oil found in the temple that burned not for one day in as expected but for eight during the rededication of the Jewish Temple, which was defiled by the Assyrians.
In my heart I hold a memory. It Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and a glorious new Autumn season. Friends have gathered in our home to perform the tashlich, an ancient ceremony in which one casts stones into a body of water to symbolize the removal of misdeeds and regrets from our bodies and souls. It is a gesture which says, "a new season has come, a new beginning, and we are ready to let go."
I confess. I love meaningful ritual. I look forward to Passover seder with the same core group of people every year, reading the same liturgy, eating the same food. I don't regard this as spiritually stultifying, I see it as connecting me with eons of people and families around the world who recognize these nights as special and sacred. The Passover ritual, like all rituals, grew from a story -- in this case the story of the Israelites slavery and exodus and eventual entry into the Promised Land.
PGO & Nellie's Cage Free Eggs come from small family farms following the strictest standards of humane animal treatment, safety and environment sustainability. Check out our bloggers' favorite ways to eat a better egg. Read more