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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Chri...um, I mean Hannukah vacation

Well, the kids are off from school this week for Hannukah.

We are still getting used to the reality of living in the Jewish state. Having grown up in a country that, at best, pays lip service to the separation of church and state (reality not withstanding), we and the kids are giddy at the realization that our culture...our reality...is not some third column 'also ran' in the big picture.

Hannukah here is not 'the anti-Christmas' that it has become in the states. Sure there is gift-giving (though not a universally accepted custom, and certainly not on the scale we had experienced in the 'states), but the celebration has an unapologetic cultural, rather than religious 'feel'. Malls are full of the smell of freshly fried and powdered Sufganiot (jelly donuts), and supermarket produce sections are dominated by the mountains of potatos and onions - the basic building blocks of the perfect latke (potato pancake).

Last night we took the kids to one of the big malls in Jerusalem. We had some stuff to pick up for the baby, but we pitched the outing to Ari and Gili as a rare opportunity to eat in the mall food court. Though there are literally dozens of food choices at the mall (Thai, Chinese, Italian, middle-eastern, etc.), the stand-alone favorite with our kids is Burger King (kosher, thank you very much). While we ate our Whoppers and fries at a table near the counter, we were delighted to see the BK staff stop taking orders for a few minutes while they gathered to light the Menorah that was prominantly displayed atop the [non-dairy] milkshake machine. Everyone patiently waited for the blessings to be said and the candles to be lit (5th night...my personal fav) before going back to the hustle and bustle that is any fast food counter. The simplicity and total acceptance of the moment is what turned our heads around.

Wow!

Posted by David Bogner on December 24, 2003 | Permalink

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