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Life’s a journey not a destination, and I just can’t tell just what tomorrow brings — Aerosmith

Archive for the ‘Chag sameach’ Category

Shana Tova 5772

Happy new year to all the MOTs out there!

It’s been a time of new initiatives and new beginnings for me. New job, new outlook, new projects… I do love the fall and the fact that Rosh Hashanah  always seems to signal a renewed sense of motivation in my life.

Wishing you and yours all the best for a happy, healthy and sweet New Year.

Happy New Year

And, depending on how you define it, happy new decade.

If this list of the 100 best songs of last decade by Rolling Stone is any indication, the new decade can only be better cause it sure can’t get much worse.

Chanukah’s difficult questions

Interesting op-ed by David Brooks in the New York Times about the real story of Chanukah and the difficult questions that it raises:

Generations of Sunday school teachers have turned Hanukkah into the story of unified Jewish bravery against an anti-Semitic Hellenic empire. Settlers in the West Bank tell it as a story of how the Jewish hard-core defeated the corrupt, assimilated Jewish masses. Rabbis later added the lamp miracle to give God at least a bit part in the proceedings.

But there is no erasing the complex ironies of the events, the way progress, heroism and brutality weave through all sides. The Maccabees heroically preserved the Jewish faith. But there is no honest way to tell their story as a self-congratulatory morality tale. The lesson of Hanukkah is that even the struggles that saved a people are dappled with tragic irony, complexity and unattractive choices. 

(Hat tip: Lesley).

It is certainly true that there are a number of ways to interpret the story of Chanukah. It can be read as a tale of the triumph of religious extremism over secularism. It can be read as an anti-assimilationist tale. It can be viewed as an anti-imperialist struggle, or as a divisive civil war.

All of this tends to get lost in the shuffle among most people who simply view Chanukah as the “festival of lights”, a generic, commercialized Jewish version of the equally-commercialized Christmas, a simple excuse for retailers to make money. A view would have likely incensed the anti-assimilationist Maccabees to no end.

Sure, at its core, Chanukah is just another one of those “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” holidays that fill the Jewish calendar. And there’s nothing wrong with a little celebration. But it’s important to know what, and why, we’re celebrating.

Happy Chanukah, all!

The decade in review

The first decade of the century (the 00′s?) is coming to a close in a little more than a month. A lot happened in the past ten years. Need a recap? Here’s Newsweek’s American-centric but still impressive 7-minute summary of the decade:

Hard to believe that this time ten years ago, we were worried about the Y2K bug, and now we’re worried about the H1N1 bug. Plus ça change…

Happy Chanukah

Check out this great virtual menorah, created by Michael Scherotter. It updates automatically at 6pm each day until all the candles are lit.

New Year’s Resolutions

My New Year’s Resolutions for 5769 are:

  1. Walk to (and from) work. See the post below. This one’s an easy resolution to make now, and might be tougher to stick to when the minus-30 weather begins, but I’m certainly going to try to stick to it!
  2. Pack my lunch. I’ve lapsed into laziness, and the cost of buying lunch several times a week is adding up fast. Bringing lunch is cheaper and healthier; eating out should be for special occasions only.
  3. Eat healthier. Kinda follows logically from #2, but also includes a clause against sitting in front of the TV eating chocolate chips out of the package. (Yes, okay, we all know I’m a chocoholic!)
  4. Improve my Spanish from Sesame Street-level to semi-conversational. The Coffee Break Spanish podcast is awesome.
  5. Find a new volunteer project. I haven’t been involved in a good project in a while, and it’s time.

I usually end up not keeping new year’s resolutions. But this time, maybe by making them in September instead of December, it’ll be a better time of year to kick off new habits. It’s all about baby steps, anyway, not big leaps.

Shana Tova, everyone!

More flags

Q: What’s red and white and red and white and red and white?
A: Canada Day in Ottawa.

Another first for me, as I headed up to Ottawa for the day yesterday to celebrate our nation’s birthday. Here in Montreal, Canada Day is sort of lame, usually overshadowed by the moving day tradition, and the much more high-profile jazz fest. So, needless to say, I was not prepared at the overwhelming display of patriotism in our nation’s capital.

When I woke up in the morning, I’d briefly considered wearing a red t-shirt, but quickly dismissed the idea as cheesy. As it turns out, I would’ve been underdressed compared to the people draped in flags, wearing hats with umbrellas on them, faces painted, you name it.

Feeling very much like a tourist in my own country, I set out with some friends to celebrate in style. Drinks at the absolutely mobbed Byward Market, free concerts on the Hill, a quick stop at the Ottawa Jazz Fest, and a barbecue to cap it all off. I had to drive home before the fireworks, but it was a nice day on the whole.

Still, I think I’ve seen enough maple leaf flags to last me a good long time.

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Number of people wearing those cheesy umbrella hats? Loads, though we stopped counting at 47.

Canada Day madness in the Market area

Canada Day madness in the Market area

Free concerts on the Hill

Free concerts on the Hill

On Kitniyot

What she said.

I’ve never understood why foods that bear no resemblance to chametz are outlawed, while matzah meal, Passover “rolls”, brownie mixes and the like are all kosher, either. I’ve been eating kitniyot for the past couple of years, and I’m definitely a happier Jew for it.

(Incidentally, you Ashkenazim out there with more *ahem* recreational interests might want to join the kitniyot revolt, too. Not my thing, but hey, whatever floats your boat.)

However you choose to celebrate, Happy Passover.

New Year’s Resolutions

My New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Don’t make any resolutions you don’t intend to keep.
2. When considering making a resolution, see #1.

In all seriousness, I’m resolving to live more fully, embrace the little moments that make life what it is, and enjoy the present.

(And if you have resolved to quit smoking, way to go. And good timing. Especially if you live in France.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Shana Tova

To all the fine-looking Jews out there: Best wishes for a happy and healthy 5768.

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