Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tis the Season- or NOT

Welcome to Israel- land of Jewish people all over.

Want to know what's in my local grocery store? Not red and green plates celebrating the seasonal holiday in the West, or a 7 branched candelabra for Kwanzaa, or even a turkey for the good old fashioned American holiday of Thanksgiving.

Nope, in my grocery store- we've got pure Shemen Zayit Zach- olive oil-, matches, candles, and wicks- all the accoutrements for Chanukah. (Yep, coming up in about 2 weeks!)

See? It's a Jewish country! Chag HaOrim- the festival of lights- is starting to take full swing.

With the glass sliding 'fish-tank' reminiscent boxes being sold in all major stores, (used to store the Menorah/Chanukiah so it can be lit outside) and the books on our holiday season being sold at half price, I feel quite at home.

I barely registered that in the US, major sales are going on for the shopping season. Thanksgiving pretty much passed me by, although I called my family in the US to wish them an enjoyable turkey day.
And the red and green stuff really shows up here in Israel about a year too late- by next year Succos when they'll be used as Succa decorations by unsuspecting Israelis.
(That cracks me up every time- seeing blinking lights spelling out C-H....- and having the unsuspecting Israeli go, "Aren't they pretty? They were on sale!" Or about the guy who hung up a red- suited, bearded guy in his Succa- and when asked- he answered, "It's a rebbe, right?)

Here Sufganiyot (jelly filled fried doughnuts, or caramel filled) are all over every bakery, and it's a temptation to wait till Chanukah. The dreidels (or Sivivon- small tops that children play with) are being brought home already, and the kids are waiting eagerly for the first chance to light a candle.

I'm so glad to be here, to be a part of this country that celebrates my holidays, my Chagim. I feel like I belong- like I never had before, when living in the US, and hoping that my neighbors wouldn't throw stones at my window for lighting my menorah. I feel a freedom I've never quite known. And I'm eternally grateful for it.


tembow said...

that's exactly how i felt when i was in seminary. i loved the yomim tovim because you could feel it in the air... the anticipation, the preparations, everything! it was great to be able to walk in geulah and see all the hustle and bustle in preparation of the upcoming yom tov. sukkos was amazing- watching all the sukkas go up in all the building at all levels ;). but chanukah is cool too. and if you've never seen the menorah lighting at the kotel, you should go. its huge and really cool!

nmf #7 said...

Tembow- thanks for commenting!
Nope- I actually haven't seen the menorah lighting at the Kotel, although I've been here for Chanukah numerous times.
It always hits me, every time I'm here, just how phenomenal it is to be in a Jewish country.

The Babysitter said...

You know your posts make me so happy, now I might be more open to moving to Israel...

It really sounds great, and it's funny about the x-mas lights. Actually one year by our school play they wanted to use colorful lights for stage affect, and they asked a sheila if their allowed to.

nmf #7 said...

Babysitter- thanks for the compliment! [blushes] Glad you get enjoyment from the posts!

Funnier story- I went to a friend's aunt (totally American) for Succos one year, and her children (Israeli born) came home with red and green plates on sale. When she questioned them- their only answer was: "What? It was on sale, and they're pretty!"
And these are kids who grow up speaking English. Go figure.

The Babysitter said...

NMF#7: You're welcome! You're so cute!

That is a funny story.

Yea, I guess they just don't know the holiday colors. I've actually seen people with red, green, black, white clothes, who bought it cause it was on sale and they just didn't realize that it was x-mas dresses.

I've always known the colors because we used to get the oriental trading magazine and they always had these different themes. I remember one of them was purple gold and green, I forgot what that day is called though.

nmf #7 said...

The purple, green, and gold holiday would be Mardi Gras, if I'm correct.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Do you know who "Sabba Sukkot" is?

He's the jolly red and white suited grandfatherly character, with the long white beard and red and white cap, that adorns the sukka decorations sold in Geula and Mea Shearim. You know, the tinsley ones or the colored lights?

That's Sabba Sukkot!

And no one else is the wiser :-)

nmf #7 said...

LOL, Jameel.
Somehow, those yellow, pink, and green candies shaped like eggs show up here around Pesach time as well.
They're probably a reminder of all the sponge cake we make during that time.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

There's a Lag Baomer Chareidi minhag of eating colored eggs.

I have no clue what the source is for it.

Ben-Yehudah said...


Thanks for reminding me about the good ol' days, before I became so jaded.

I remember hearing Ma'oz Tzur from the Jerusalem "Bell Tower" on King George St., instead of a Xmas carol,...working on a Sunday,...not having to take sick days for Haggim,...stuff like that.

I love lighting my Hanukkiyah outside,...not worried about the "Listim" coming to get me.

Of course, Xmas cards are sold in the Ramat Aviv mall, and neo Nazis do nasty stuff in Ariel and Beer Sheva,...suggesting that we're moving in the wrong direction here.

Hanukkah Same'ah.

nmf #7 said...

Ben-Yehudah- Thanks for commenting, and a Chanukah Sameach to you as well!
Not taking off sick days to use for Yom Tov is another amazing facet of Israel life- it's quite phenomenal to me that the entire country goes by the Jewish calendar.