Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Wonders of Wonders, Miracles of Miracles

Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you'll see them all around you. 
-Jon Bon Jovi

The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have.
-Leonard Nimoy

I've always loved the holiday of Chanuka, even as a kid back in the Old Country, surrounded by snow, and cold, and frost. I loved Chanuka, long before I was introduced to Brownie Cheesecake sufganiyot with cheesecake cream filling, topped with chocolate ganache and a mound of edible glitter-dusted brownie bits.

While Chanuka has been annually celebrated for over 2000 years, it was only in the mid-20th century that it became the most popular and publicly celebrated Jewish holiday in the Western World. 
It's really quite a phenomenon; what we are celebrating is the occurrence of miracles in the time of the Second Temple, but the real miracle today is that—despite the eventual destruction of the Temple; despite our exile from our Land; despite the persecutions and the forced conversions and the pogroms; despite pervasive assimilation, all of which were the result of our exile—we are still celebrating more than 2000 years later.

Albert Einstein once said "there are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle." 
I, personally, see miracles every day: 
light traffic so I get to work on time after a late start;
a parking spot opens up right in front of my house even though my neighbors own five cars;
exact change suddenly appears in my wallet to buy that coffee I desperately need; 
despite the coffee, my shirt isn't stained; 
even though I hate wearing shoes, sometimes they are actually comfortable;
a friend I haven't heard from in a long time gets in touch just when I'm feeling most down; 
273 different flavours of sufganiyot.

And last night, I was privileged to be blessed with another miracle - a first ever family Chanuka party. 

For most people, a family Chanuka party is not a big deal - in fact, I've heard that it is often a thing to be dreaded. 

For the first few years after I came to the HolyLand, there wasn't any family at all with whom to party. After I got married and had kids, I lived with all the family I had, and every day was a party.
Little by little, however, the family has expanded: my kids began to have families of their own, and other family members have come to live in the HolyLand, and have families of their own, and today, we number almost three dozen. Which is two dozen and 11 people more than I had when I came. 

I've had the idea of having some sort of family get-together for a while now, but getting everyone in the same room proved to be challenging. Over the years, whenever I broached the subject, my kids would roll their eyes, while other family members out of eye-rolling range would basically tell me that they had to wash their hair on whatever night I might be thinking of. And NOBODY was willing to come to the wilds of the northern Negev, not even for an apple vanilla sufganiya with cinnamon, which I wasn't going to serve anyway because they are like 11 shekel each. 
But this year, everything seemed to come together. My sister and brother-in-law are here visiting, which gave added value to a family event. My daughter offered to host it in her apartment in Jerusalem, so most of the guests did not have to travel as far (except, of course, for us. But everyone knows that Jerusalem is closer to Beer Sheva than Beer Sheva is to Jerusalem). We picked a day. After an initial reaction of eye rolls and 'well, I'll see if there's nothing better happening' and 'you don't expect me to come, do you', invited guests began to ask what they could bring. 
And everybody came. 
The older generation (me and the husband, and two sisters [one from each side] and their husbands), the second generation (the kids), and, by heavens, a third generation (nine[!!!] various grandkids aged six and under). 

It was chaos. 

The little ones played with balloons that went flying into the soup, and into the chanukiot, and under any chair anyone was sitting on. There were secular family members, religious family members, charedi family members, and a couple of guests who are like family members. There were two active soldiers (one even arrived in uniform, but, as is standard procedure, changed before anyone noticed). Both soldiers, by the way, are girls and are 'lone soldiers', i.e., their parents don't live in the country. There were engineers and artists, a doctor, hi-tech people, a couple of high school kids, an architect, a tour guide, a fireman, a couple of nurses, students and teachers, and a retired lawyer. There were Canadians, Brits, Israelis, an Argentinian, one lone American, and a lizard. 
There was soup and bourekas and humous and mushrooms and coleslaw and pizza and home-made donuts. And a surpise cake. 
There were dreidels that have a 'pei' on them and not a 'shin' and were called sivivonim.  

We took pictures. I insisted on getting the nine little ones together to take a picture. 'Good luck with that!' I was told over and over again, mostly by their parents. And indeed, my best efforts were less than successful. 
We did, however, with much cajoling, direction, choreography, and bullying manage to get the second and third generation, more or less, together, . 

There were jokes and laughter. There were pizza crumbs in the bed. There were poopy babies, and problems parking the cars. 
We had a truly Israeli experience. 

We had a miracle. 

This is how we got our money out of the Old Country

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