We're eating Manischewitz-brined turkey with latkes, 11 of us, lighting candles for Hannukah in a mishmash of celebration. There's my father and mother, friends for more than 50 years. My mom's two ex-girlfriends are also here, these women who have known me, and loved me, for decades.
We'll be scraping the melted wax off the table for a few more days, but before us lies an entire "holiday season" and our holidaying is over. What's a Jew to do?
It was a big weekend with the Thanksgiving holiday and for the first time I can recall, many of us also celebrated Hanukkah. I love this time of year filled with tradition, gathering together and sharing.
The usual holiday reality is sparkling moments shining through quite a lot of disappointment, which is usually caused by the fact that we and those around us often fail in our duty to behave like Santa's perfect little elves.
In this time when so many of us often get caught up in the urgent and lose sight of the important, take time out today to stop and think of all of the reasons you have to be grateful.
What should be the Jewish response to Christmas, whether it is part of our own family, on our block or just floating in the air -- how should the season be greeted?
One of the key lessons of the Hanukkah story is that if we are to create an enduring future, we must have the wherewithal to fashion sacred moments here and now that uplift our spirits and have the potential of becoming touchstones.
There are moments in all parents' lives when they just can't figure out what to get their children and leaning on a big name retailer to pull a rabbit from a hat for them only adds to the frustration despite the helpful lists these retailers strive to provide.
The ethical teachings of Jesus long and clearly have been understood to support the poor and struggling in the world over those with means -- who remain hard of heart.
Tonight is mid-stream Chanukah and Thanksgiving is behind us. In the end, I'm not sure the confluence of the two birthed any physical or spiritual properties for my family or me.
Both traditions use prayer, gathering of family, and special foods to celebrate the miraculous providence of God to sustain a struggling community in a context of colonial oppression. Reflecting on how they differ may also help us overcome the ugly connotations of Thanksgiving.
You see, for the past few years during Chanukah we have strapped a large menorah to the top of our van. Depending on where you live, you may have seen this. But for the general public of Philadelphia, this definitely draws attention.
As a ferociously reluctant Yeshiva boy in the 1970s, I thought Hanukkah was without a doubt the most joyous time of the year.
The testimony of the Jewish people throughout their scriptures and history and in this season of Hanukkah reminds me, just as God told Moses in the wilderness, to stop crying and start moving forward in spite of moments of doubt, trusting in the continued light of God's presence.
I don't know what the artist had in mind when crafting this piece by hand. I don't think that anyone will ever know.
Last year, our Jewish family started celebrating Christmas. We planted our feet in the sweet spot where traditions are made, and explanations are limited.