MoZiPro 2022 – January Prompt

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Seeing as I was going to write a short zine about Tu Bishvat for That Monthly Zine Project’s January prompt – Trees – this year I actually did a bit more for the holiday than I usually do. I wanted to celebrate the holiday properly so that I could have enough interesting things to write about.

First, I baked a cake made with dry fruits. Dry apricots, dates, raisins, dry figs, dry pieces of banana, dry plums and others is the customary food for this holiday, so it was only fitting to make a cake packed with some of those. It came out fucking awesome and I added a picture of this cake in the zine.

Second, we decorated our small lemon tree. A couple of months back, when we just planted the tree, my dad told me that it’s a tradition to decorate new trees on Tu Bishvat, and I LOVED that idea. So my kid and I did it on Tu Bishvat morning, January 17, before we left to gan/work. We didn’t add too many decorations because I didn’t want to burden our tree which is still young and fragile, but it was good enough for our purposes. We took some photos and I added one of them to the zine.

I also wanted to take my daughter out to some field to plant a tree, and I saw a few organized events for that. Unfortunately, there were a few reasons that this didn’t pan out. The week that these events took place was a cold and rainy one. Also, Covid cases are on the rise and although I’m sure we’re eventually gonna get it, I still didn’t want to push it by going to events with lots of people. Another reason is a religious one. This year is Shnat Shmita – the year where according to Jewish Law, you’re not supposed to plant anything, and let Mother Earth take a breather. There was an event flyer that mentioned it and said that the planting of trees will take place in an area that is permitted in accordance with Halacha, or something like that. But in any case, I didn’t feel comfortable with it. Maybe next year will be better.

I decided that the zines I will make for MoZiPro will be in the size of a standard mini-zine (i.e. A7) but not in the same style of folding a single sheet of paper. Just small-sized regular booklets bound with a couple of staples. So it still looks like a zine, but simple to make and easy to read.

So the zine for January is an A7-size, 16-pages, full color, little beauty. Hand-written in cursive, which I hope people can read because my penmanship is mediocre to put it mildly. Includes a couple of tiny drawings and a bunch of Washi tape.

I’m happy with the way the zine came out. What do you think?

I hope that by the end of this year, I can have a collection of 12 MoZiPro 2022 zines, and post it on Etsy as a special MoziPro grab-bag. Yay!

Peace, love and tiny zines

The Jewish Women’s Day

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Around Mother’s Day, I discovered the Holiday of Girls – a Jewish custom celebrated around Jewish Middle-Eastern communities during Hanukkah. My family is Moroccan so it made me wonder why I’ve never heard about it. I was determined to include it in our Hanukkah festivities and make it into the custom that it was intended to be.

Chag Habanot – because Judith was a badass and gave zero fucks!

I started planning it about a month ago. The holiday takes place on the eve of the first of the month of Tevet. That happened to fall right on the weekend we were set to be in Be’er Sheva with my parents. So I asked them to tell the family that we want to have my grandmother over specifically on that date, so that she could spend Chag Habanot with us.

I guess I should have planned it a bit better because I went crazy with all the preparations at the last minute and drove my husband crazy with it.

On the Wikipedia page I found about this holiday, it said that the custom is to have a dairy meal (in memory of Judith who gave Holofernes some milk before decapitating him). So on Friday, I tried a new recipe for cheesy Penne and a new sauce with plenty of veggies. Took me forever but it came out decent.

Another thing they said on the Wiki page is that it is also customary to eat a lot of sweet stuff. I already planned to take a piece of last week’s birthday cake to my parents (that I kept in the freezer), as well as the sufgies I made. But I still went ahead and tried making Churros. That was right after I was done with making the pasta, so I really had to hustle. The Churros didn’t come out as Churros but as fried snakes. So finally I decided to just fry them as I did the Sufgies and called them Sufganitas, to give them the Mexican sound of the food they were based on. I rolled them in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and they were delicious.

Another Wiki fact about Chag Habanot – in one custom, they pick one inspirational woman of many accomplishments and give her a gift naming her “Yekirat Ha’eda” (The Beloved of the Community). Since Hanukkah is also my grandmother’s birthday, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to give her such a gift and name her Yekirat Ha’eda. On Tuesday, right after work, I went to a souvenir shop on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall and ordered this colorful plate with decorations in the shape of the old city monuments and architecture, with an engraved plaque reading “Yekirat Ha’eda”. My husband went to pick it up on Friday morning.

I printed out the Wiki page and highlighted some parts of it to read to my family on the holiday.

After all the stress to try and get everything done, I heard that my extended family was planning a birthday party for my grandmother on the same evening of the first of Tevet. Of course, the party that they were planning had nothing to do with Chag Habanot because, like me, they’ve never heard of it before. At first, I was furious. I planned this shit for a fucking month and nearly lost my tuque making sure I get everything ready, and they up and steal it from right under me. Especially after I specifically requested that my grandmother spend the evening with us a whole fucking month in advance! I exclaimed “They fucking stole Memeh (my grandmother)!” And my daughter literally started crying.

“We’ll hide her so they can’t steal her then!” She said with defiance.

But then it occurred to me that Shabbat ends early because it gets dark so soon. And the birthday party they planned starts two hours later. So maybe we could make it work.

And we did!

After the Havdalah (the prayer we make to bid farewell to the Sabbath Queen), I took the stage and started my first ever Chag Habanot ritual. First, we lit the Menorah. It was the seventh candle and we had three menorahs – one that my dad lit, another that my daughter lit, and the third that I instructed only the girls of the family should light together, and I made the blessing on that one. It was me, my daughter, my mother and my grandmother who lit the third menorah together.

Then I sat in front of my grandmother, because she’s hard of hearing, and read to her the parts of the Wiki page I chose, to describe what Chag Habanot is, why we celebrate it during Hanukkah, who are the Jewish historical heroines we celebrate, and what are some of the customs in different Sephardi communities. Then, I gave her her gift and she was overwhelmed with joy. She even gave me one of her gold bracelets as a thank you gift, which was an incredible and moving gesture.

After that, we sat down for the dairy meal, had some sufgies and chocolate covered cones my mom made, and of course, a le’Chaim with Moscato wine my husband bought at the last minute. I got drunk for the first time in eons, but didn’t get sick which was great. And everything turned out perfect.

I’m so happy we have this holiday now and that it was reintroduced to our family as a regular custom of Hanukkah. We’ll have it every year from now on.

Peace, love and Esther is still my favorite Jewess of all times!

Holiday of Huts

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I’ve seen all these memes on Facebook about how to explain the Jewish holidays to non Jews. Succot, which in goyish terms is translated into Feast of the Tabernacles, is explained in this meme as “Huts Appreciation Week”. I was born on the eve of Succot, 39 glorious years ago and it’s been a tradition of mine to celebrate it in the succa with my family, while contemplating my life in the light of the full moon of Tishrei – known as the Moon of the Robust.

This year was the second year in a row that I did not celebrate my birthday with my parents because Corona still holds its crown. I decided to make my own birthday cake. I was thinking about the Alfajores biscuit cake I made earlier (because it’s officially my favorite cake ever!) but my daughter insisted on the regular mekupelet one we already made a bunch of times before which always comes out spectacular. So we made that one on the morning of Succot eve. I added my name on it with fondant, but then it melted so I got rid of it before serving it for dessert that evening.

In my family, I don’t ever remember us building our own succa. I know my grandfather used to build one but he stopped when I turned five because that was the year my uncle – his son – was killed. Since then, we celebrated Succot and my birthday while commemorating my uncle all at the same time. After that, in Canada, we used to go to the succa of the nearest synagogue just for the holiday kiddush, and then we went back home for the meal because it was way too cold to eat in the succa. When we moved back to Israel, we went to my aunt’s succa in Meitar with the whole family every year. But then Corona struck and that was the end of that. My husband’s family stopped building their succa after my father-in-law got sick and got disabled as a result. So last year was the first year I spent Succot without a succa. I built a tiny one for my daughter out of a large cardboard box that I painted and decorated. She loved the hell out of it and played in it for months until it was in tatters.

“Next year, we’ll build a REAL succa!” I promised her.

And so, the most exciting thing about this year’s holiday is that I managed to keep my promise to my daughter. This is the first year in our lives that we built our very own succa! We ordered the metal rods and the canvas from Home Center. We put it together on the weekend before chag, before realizing we didn’t have a schach (branches for the roof). My husband got the bamboo support rods and the schach that same day and completed the job with his brother-in-law. My daughter made some succa decorations at kindergarten and my mother-in-law bought a few more. We decorated it on morning eve after we finished making my birthday cake. My daughter was so happy about it, she wanted to stay and play in the succa the entire time.

Now, since it’s getting pretty chilly in the evenings of our little mountain neighborhood of Gilo, we decided to do the same as my family and I did in Canada – do the holiday Kiddush as well as the motzi (blessing on the bread) in the succa, then go back inside for the meal. It was pretty nice, and we had a dairy dinner that evening which made it even better.

The next day, we were invited to my sister-in-law’s house for a BBQ (they were planning fish instead of meat). I wasn’t very excited about that. I don’t know what it is about my sister-in-law’s place that doesn’t agree with me. Last Yom Haatzmaut, I felt the same. The place is huge and despite that, I couldn’t find a single corner where I felt comfortable. I kept moving from room to room, floor to floor, indoors to outdoors, switching between chairs, couches and sofas and couldn’t find my groove anywhere. The moment I sat anywhere, I’d start fidgeting.

And then there’s the bees. On Yom Haatzmaut, there was a gigantic one inside the house. For some reason, I was the only one who actually noticed it. And anywhere I went, it followed me around. This time, we were in the succa, and a small bee came in and decided to settle on my plate. I went back inside to eat.

And also, I get so exhausted, I’m near-comatose. This doesn’t happen to me anywhere else, only at my SIL’s house. I started thinking maybe it’s the altitude. She practically lives on a mountain. Maybe I’m not getting enough oxygen. But our neighborhood, Gilo, is also at a high altitude. Whatever the case, the moment we get to her house, I want to leave. I don’t say anything of course, so I try to stand it in silence and keep checking my watch.

Succot is a week-long holiday, but except for the first day and the last day that are high holidays and everything is closed, the rest of the time is chol hamoed. We still don’t go to work and kids don’t have school, but everything is open, especially vacation spots. So we had to try and find things for my kid to keep her busy. On the first day of chol hamoed, I had to go to work for a few hours, so my husband took my daughter to get tested for Corona (more on that below) and then took her to what he calls a “ninja” playground. My kid is slowly improving with her climbing skills so that playground came in handy for her practice.

On the second day, I set a playdate with one of my daughter’s friends but unfortunately, she was in a mood and the playdate ended in tears on both sides.

My in-laws decided to book a hotel for the weekend of chol hamoed. They settled on Netanya which is a nice little beach-side city. We went there with my parents on Shavuot in 2019 and had a blast.

As per the Tav Yarok instructions of the hotel, we got my daughter tested for Covid before going there. She tested negative. Both me and my husband are already vaccinated three times over so that was fine. But I was still worried for a whole slew of reasons:

  1. I don’t trust people. There is no telling if anyone there is vaccinated/tested negative. These are easy things to forge/fake.
  2. I don’t trust non-homemade food. There have been endless reports on TV about restaurants and hotel food either using expired ingredients or being infested with fecal bacteria. And the businesses they were investigating are considered high-scale places, not just fast-food crap.
  3. Hotel = Not my home.
  4. Beach = Sand getting fucking everywhere.
  5. Pool = Way too many kids, way too fucking loud.
  6. We needed to find a suitable arrangement for my dog. I was worried that the caretaker would neglect giving her her meds at the right times and we would suffer the consequences of a sick dog.
  7. I know myself. I will want to go back home every fucking second I’m away.

However, the weekend away proved to be the best part of chol hamoed! The hotel was Leonardo Plaza, a top-rate hotel. The staff was more strict than I had anticipated regarding Covid instructions. People kept their masks on when they were not in their room. Tav Yarok was checked and people got bracelets to show they were cleared for entrance. The hotel food was outstanding, and I didn’t get sick from it. The room itself was wonderful and my daughter got a large bed just for herself and she loved it. And of course, the hotel was within walking distance of the beach and the boardwalk. The weather was perfect and there were no jellyfish in the sea. The water temp was perfect too and I loved watching my kid enjoying herself, playing in the shallow waves, playing in the sand, running around on the boardwalk, and having the best time ever.

[A fun little anecdote: At some point, my husband’s nephews came to our room to play with my daughter. One of them (a 6-year-old) decided to play with the hotel landline. When he picked up the receiver, it probably automatically dialed the reception because he said “Someone answered!” We told him to hang up the phone, but for a moment, he just stood there looking at it.
“Hang it up!” We told him again, and he looked at the keypad and said “How?!”
“Just place the receiver back in the cradle!” We said and then realized what happened. The kid is 6. He never encountered a landline. As far as he’s concerned, hanging up the phone means pressing a button, but he couldn’t find it. As it hit, I laughed my ass off. My husband joined in, and the kids had no idea what we found so fucking hilarious.]

And when we got back home, my dog was just fine. We just had one more day of chol hamoed to fill before going to my parents’ house for Simchat Torah (a.k.a. the second holiday of Succot).

So that last day was Sunday. We tried taking my daughter to the Gazelle Valley but there were so many people, we got nervous, so we left. An all-around useless day and I couldn’t wait to get back to our routine.

So at the end of the holiday, as I expected, I just wanted the motherfucker to end. I was glad we went to Netanya though. After two years of not doing anything because of Covid, going to a hotel was definitely necessary and worth it. But the rest of the holiday was boring and way too fucking long. I was tired of going places, of freaking out because of Covid, of spending too much time with people… I think that’s the issue. I don’t “people” very well. I like silence and solitude.

At the office, I’m at the reception desk by myself. Most of our clients either don’t show up at all, or come in and lock themselves in their office. So it’s always quiet.

At home, the only other people are my husband (a rather quiet guy and almost as much of a hermit as I am) and my daughter (although still young, can entertain herself and play by herself nicely and without making too much noise if at all). And my dog (who sleeps all day).

At my parents’ place, still quiet. I’m an only child so there are no siblings with kids of their own.

So I’m so used to being quiet and being around quiet individuals, that once I get someplace that is heavily populated and noisy, I get nervous and exhausted. The holidays make for the worst time of the year for me to get antisocial, but that’s exactly what they do to me.

I’m so glad it’s over… until Hanukkah, yet another week-long holiday.

Peace, love, and once an only child, always an only child.

Groats!

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The Jewish holidays are not done yet but I’ll still write a half-time recap of them.

So far, we had Rosh Hashana on September 6 to 8, then Yom Kippur on 15 to 16. Succot eve (my Jewish birthday) is tomorrow, followed by a week long break all the way to Simchat Torah on the 28. Phew!

Yes, every time the holidays roll around, I get excited for them and then I get tired of them and already want them to end. Last year and this year have made the holidays even more unbearable due to Corona and also kids going back to school on and off due to high holidays falling smack in the middle of the week and in between weekends and quarantines. So once again, we go from “Yay, back to school” to “Nope, holiday” to “OK, NOW back to school” to “Nope, quarantine” to “How bout now?” to “Nope, weekend” to “WHAT THE FUCK ALREADY?!” to “Stay the fuck home and shut up!”

Also, this whole back and forth makes it next to impossible to see family members. My poor sister-in-law has five kids who literally take turns going in and out of quarantine so we just managed to catch her in between quarantines yesterday. But her twin toddlers were both sick and I didn’t want my daughter to stick around for too long because the last thing I want is for her to get sick as well and having to stay home, Corona or not.

And I haven’t seen my parents yet and won’t see them until Simchat Torah. That’s another birthday I’ll spend without them and it pisses me the fuck off!

My regular Friday bake-days have also been irregular. Since most of the food we have is from my mother-in-law, there is no need for us to have groceries delivered as much, so no ingredients are ordered either. And I don’t bake on high holidays anyway because it’s labor/craft. Although I don’t really keep the holidays too strictly, baking and chores are taking it a bit far for my traditional upbringing.

Rosh Hashana was actually quite nice. We spent the eve at Ness Tziona at my husband’s aunt’s place. She set the table outside in her backyard as a safety precaution (fucking Covid again). I was stunned by how beautiful and well-kept her backyard is. There were different flowers all around the wall which was lined with decorative vases and statues looking like they were stolen from a museum or from an archeological site. Some had plants and other flowers growing out of them. There was also a bush of bird of paradise flowers. I took a few pictures of my daughter next to them because of their Hebrew name being the same as hers, and also because they’re my parents’ favorite flower. I sent these photos to my parents and they loved it!

The fact that my bake-days became all screwy depressed me a little. But I’ve been planning on making jelly-stuffed cookies for a few weeks now and since they’re a Yom Kippur tradition in our family, I said I’ll go for it. So on Yom Kippur eve, a few hours before the seuda mafseket (the meal we have right before the fast begins), I made the cookies! The tradition in our house is that once the cookies are done, we lay them out on a platter and put them on the dining table for the whole of Yom Kippur. Of course, that just makes us die inside every time we pass by them during the 25-hour-long fast, but that’s how we do it. I was not gonna do it this year though because any food that stays on the table promptly disappears because we have a super-duper glutton for a dog. But the cookies came out looking great and I sent a picture of them to my mom who was touched by the fact that I remembered and kept the custom going. Unfortunately, I messed up a little with the dough because I didn’t put enough butter. They still came out tasting good but weren’t as crumbly as they should be. I’ll get it right the next time, for sure.

Another Yom Kippur tradition in my family is spending the fast sitting around the living room talking about food and sharing recipes. It’s not as torturous as it sounds. It really passes the time and you get the best ideas for new recipes to try. My husband doesn’t really bake or cook so this activity doesn’t work with him. But my daughter has these flash cards with letter-puzzles on one side and a recipe on the other. So I flipped through them and made mental notes to try some of them later on. That was a wonderful fast-pastime indeed!

Yet another Yom Kippur tradition we have (which totally grosses my husband out) is breaking the fast with this mushy egg-yolk-and-sugar mix we make. Beat one egg yolk with a few tablespoons of sugar until it becomes light and fluffy, and you pour it into a hot drink – either coffee or milk – as a sweetener. Sounds nasty but fucking A, it’s the most divine thing EVER! Add some jelly-stuffed cookies on the side and you got yourself the best break-fast in the world. I was gonna take a picture of it but I was enjoying myself too much to stop long enough to snap a photo. Yes, it’s THAT amazing!

A couple of hours after that light snack, I’m ready for something a bit more substantial, usually veggie soup with noodles or groats (is that the right English word for grissim? How hysterical!).

Up next, Succot and my last birthday as a 30-something-year-old. I have some plans as well as a surprise for this year, but I’ll save that for my post after the holiday, so stay tuned!

Peace, love and back to face-suffage

Women of Valor

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We never celebrated Mother’s Day in my family. In fact, I don’t ever recall it being celebrated in Israel at all.

Seeing all the Facebook posts of my overseas friends with their kids, celebrating Mother’s Day, it made me wonder how it is that we don’t celebrate it in Israel. Maybe it’s on a different date?

So I read up about it on Wikipedia and was stunned to find out that Yom Hamishpacha (Family Day) was supposed to be Mother’s Day in Israel but was renamed Family Day instead. Yom Hamishpacha is on the 30th day of the Jewish month of Shvat, that falls around January or February.

Kinda pissed me off. It sounds like those people who say “I’m not a feminist, I’m an equalist.” Or those who say “All lives matter” in a response to “Black lives matter”. Or those idiots who think we should have a straight pride parade in response to gay pride.

Why generalize? Why not make a day that is special just for mothers like the rest of the world?

At least, when it comes to Father’s Day, in Israel, that was also integrated into Family Day. So there is no difference between mother and father in that case. But it’s still stupid.

As part of my research about Mother’s Day in Israel, I stumbled upon an article about Chag Habanot (The Holiday of Girls). In the article, it says that this day is celebrated across Israel mostly by communities that originated from countries around the Middle East, such as Morocco, where my family is from.

Dudes, I have NEVER heard of this holiday! Why in the hell aren’t we celebrating it more prominently? With all I read about this holiday, it’s probably the most feminist holiday in all of Israel and all of Judaism.

This is what I found out so far:

  • The Holiday of Girls is celebrated on the first day of the month of Tevet, which falls in the week of Hanukkah, and on the darkest night of the year.
  • This holiday celebrates the miraculous power of women: their heroism, their wisdom and their sisterhood throughout the ages.
  • In the past, the first of every month was considered a special day for women, who would light a candle for the rebirth of the moon and keep the holiday as a Sabbath.
  • There is evidence in the scriptures about the cycles of the moon as related to the menstrual cycle of women, which explains the importance of the new month for women.
  • There is a link between this holiday and some prominent women in the scriptures. The first is Judith who lived during the time when the Romans tried to conquer Judea. Judith used her beauty and wisdom to seduce the general of the Roman army, boozed him up and beheaded him, thus saving the Jews and all of Judea. That happened on the eve of the first month of Tevet.
  • Another prominent woman was the Hasmonean sister. During the Greek empire, it was decreed that every newlywed Jewish women would be raped by a bishop on her wedding night. The Hasmonean sister refused the decree. On her wedding night, she went to the king along with her brothers who snuck into the king’s room and killed him. This started the Maccabees’ rebellion against the Greeks.
  • The first of the month of Tevet was also the day when Esther was brought to King Ahasuerus to be crowned as queen. Esther is my personal favorite Jewish heroine. She’s the one who saved the Jews from Haman who wanted to exterminate them. I wish we had an Esther when Hitler was around. She would have given him hell.

There are some more anecdotes and stories of different customs of this holiday within Middle Eastern communities. The first day of the month of Tevet, which falls on the sixth or seventh candle of Hanukkah, is the Holiday of Girls. I wish I could celebrate that holiday in my family. Maybe next Hanukkah, we’ll do something special for my daughter, or something special for my mom, or maybe I’ll do something special for myself. As there is no Mother’s Day in Israel per se, I want the Holiday of Girls to be the one we celebrate. Compared to Mother’s Day, Chag Habanot seems to be much more special, much more feminist and much more Jewish. I fucking LOVE it!

Peace, love and Shebrew forever!

Written in the Stars

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I don’t know whether or not I believe in astrology. In fact, one of my more religious cousins told me that Jews are above the Zodiac. But I like to read the horoscope and do a bit a research about my Zodiac sign to see if any of it does in fact apply to me.

I once read that Libras are very much into social justice and may be activists for marginalized groups. So that definitely applies to me. Recently, I made a few more discoveries via Google.

  • One of the most compatible signs with Libra is Leo. My husband is a Leo.
  • Apparently Libras are good in bed. I’d like to think so too. I also understand that Leos are one of the best ones in bed as well. I don’t usually elaborate too much about my sexual life on here but I will say that my husband made me feel things I never felt with any one of my former lovers. That should say enough about how awesome he is in bed.
  • They say I’m naturally pretty: “The planet Venus rules Libra. Venus is the sign of love, passion, and all things beautiful. Basically, Libras are so beautiful because beauty just naturally runs through their veins.” This is astrology. It’s got nothing to do with veins. And I don’t particularly find myself pretty.
  • I’m in trouble as the mother of a Scorpio because they say Scorpio is a Water sign, and “can present much drama in a Libra’s life, resulting in the scorpion [sic] becoming a fast enemy of a diplomatic and forgiving Libra.”
  • They are also dead wrong a lot of times: “Libras end up being gluttons for punishment because as long as someone supplies their love fix, they’ll take on a lot of collateral damage. Libras are infamous for flirting too much. Libras are also notorious for being wishy-washy, and they’re often accused of being fake as hell.” No, no and HEEEEELLLL NO. This is the veritable anti-thesis of who I am and what I stand for. I’m honest to a fault and that gets me in trouble sometimes, but I never fake because I just don’t know how to.
  • And sometimes they are dead on! “Libra adores the lonely life, and that’s mainly because they don’t like people. Being that they always do what they want without any consideration for others, they’ve come to know that it’s best to simply not try.” By the way, the fact that they say that Libras do what they want without any consideration for others should prove to you just how wrong they are when they say that we’re fake. Why would we pretend if we don’t give a shit?
  • They say we forgive easily, yet they also say we hold a grudge. Although it may seem confusing to you, it definitely applies to me. I do think I sometimes forgive too easily, while at the same time I am holding several grudges I’ve had for decades.
  • “They thrive on making things orderly and aesthetically pleasing.” Hell yes! I wrote about that several times. Order in my surroundings makes order in my mind. A well-organized and balanced environment is the definition of peace of mind for me.

I think I’ll just stick with the “balanced” aspects of my Zodiac sign because this is really the thing that defines me the most. A Libra is a scale and a balanced life is what we crave.

Peace, love and Libras kick your ass either way.

Pride Is Not a Sin

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For those who don’t know about it and have never been, the March of the Living brings people, mostly Jews, from around the world, to Poland to visit the various death camps, concentration camps and Jewish ghettos that operated during WWII. On Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, the marchers march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, in contrast with the Death Marches that the victims of the Holocaust had to go on when they were taken from Birkenau to Auschwitz. A week later, the March of the Living goes to Israel in time for Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial Day for fallen soldiers) and Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day).

In 2000, I went to the March of the Living. That was a few months before the onset of the second Intifada, so the March could still take place in relative safety. When we were in Israel, right before Yom Hazikaron, the guides told us to respect the day and not do anything that is inappropriate or offensive during this day of mourning.

On Yom Hazikaron, they let us tour downtown Jerusalem. It was my first time in the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall and I just had to buy something from the souvenir shops. So I got a blue-and-white top hat decked out with a bunch of Stars of David. As we wore our Israel flags around our shoulders during Yom Hashoah, I decided to wear this Israel hat during Yom Hazikaron. The guides, however, went batshit crazy.

“What are you doing?! Have you no respect?! Have you no shame?! People are in mourning and you go and wear a top hat?!”

I didn’t see the problem with it then, and I still don’t see it now. Why do you think people are in mourning? They’re in mourning because they lost family members while safeguarding our homeland. Israel is the homeland, the flag is a symbol of pride, and this top hat was an expression of this pride. Is there any better way to commemorate our fallen soldiers and extending our gratitude to our living ones who put their lives on the line every single day than to show solidarity, pride and love for the Land of Israel, wearing it on our heads and around our shoulders, as they wear their helmets and their rifles?

I lost a family member to this conflict – my uncle. My own father got injured in the war of ’67. My cousins and my uncles were and are in uniform. Do you think I feel anything less than utter terror of what could happen? Do you honestly think I have anything less than immense respect for it?

The question is not why I’m wearing the colors of my flag. The question is why are you NOT? Are you not proud of our soldiers? Are you not proud of our Land? Yom Hazikaron is the perfect time to show that their sacrifices have not been in vain. That we have our land, that we can proudly wear the colors and the flag in complete safety without fear because our soldiers protect us – this is what these soldiers gave their lives for. And you think I should be ashamed? THAT, right there. THAT is the one feeling we should NOT be feeling on this day. Shame? No, I have absolutely no shame. I have only pure, unabated, raging pride. You should be ashamed of yourself for not feeling the same.

So they confiscated my hat and told me they will give it back to me on that evening, the eve of Yom Haatzmaut. They never did. I do believe they stole it. But whatever, fuck them. They can go on being ashamed if they think this is the correct feeling for this Memorial Day. They SHOULD be ashamed for not feeling proud.

Tonight is the eve of Yom Haatzmaut, and I feel proud on so many levels. Proud of the IDF, proud of my country, proud of my family, and proud of my heritage.

I am also proud that I can finally wish all Israelis – men, women and non-binary people – a happy Independence Day, with the help of Multi-Gender Hebrew!

Peace, love and 73 years in the making.

Party Back to Life

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Today after gan, my daughter has a friend’s birthday party. Lucky for me, the party is on our very street so I don’t need to fumble around busses and cabs or beg one of the other mothers for a ride in order to get my daughter there. We’ll just walk. She likes parties, especially the part with the endless piles of candy, chocolate and cake. I hope to goddess I don’t pass out while I’m quietly bemoaning her oral health.

On Tuesday, she’ll have a Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) party at gan. I’m SO FUCKING THRILLED for her about that! Last year, they didn’t have such a party because we spent Yom Haatzmaut in lockdown. So for this year, the teacher requested that we send the kids dressed in the colors of the flag. I got my kid to try on a long-sleeve white shirt and white tights, with a blue summer dress over it. The dress is bohemian-style with bow-tied spaghetti straps. As per the appropriate hippy Jerusalem style, plus the colors of the flag, she looks like such an amazing Israeli girl! An image of high-voltage Zionist perfection squished into a pint-sized human. She wanted to show me how her dress spins when she does, but I was too busy hugging her and unable to let her go.

The actual date of Yom Haatzmaut is Thursday, and everything is closed on that day. E has no gan, my husband and I are off work, and the entire country is out in the fields or the backyards or public parks having BBQs. So we decided to conform and have a BBQ with my in-laws who live in a small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. My daughter LOVES it there. They have an enormous house with a huge backyard. And since they have five kids (not much less than a small tribe) their basement is a large playroom stuffed with toys. My kid loses herself there. After the BBQ, we’re planning a trip to the nearby petting zoo. My kid’s first time in one. There is a chicken there my mother-in-law calls the “Trump Rooster” because it has a cock’s comb similar to that of the United States’ former cock-in-chief. How nice!

The only day that is not a happy party day is Wednesday. Although my daughter does need to wear a white shirt to gan, and most businesses close early or close completely, Wednesday is Yom Hazikaron (remembrance day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror). So it’s a day of mourning. The siren will sound on Tuesday evening as well as on Wednesday morning.

These non-happy days are difficult to explain to four-year-olds. For Yom Hazikaron, I usually explain a little about the soldiers that protect us and our country, and this day is for them. But for Yom Hashoah, it’s far more complicated. This year, I tried explaining it with relation to the story of Passover which she did learn about. So I say something like “Well, a long time ago, in a faraway land, there was a mean leader (Hitler), like the Pharaoh, who wanted to hurt the Jews, like the People of Israel.” It is a horrible story but I guess it’s not much worse than telling her about how the Pharaoh decreed that all Jewish male babies be thrown into the Nile. And she did learn about that. It’s also similar to the story of Purim, where the mean leader was Haman, who also wanted to kill the Jews. And similar to the destruction we commemorate on Hanukkah…

Fuck’s sake… it’s like:

“Hey, remember that day when that guy wanted to kill all the Jews?”

“You mean, like, every single day for the last 3000 years? Yeah I remember that.”

Just tell her everyone always wants us dead. But we kick their asses anyway, and either celebrate it with a holiday or commemorate it with a day of mourning.

At least, this year will be different than last year, because the fact that the Covid crisis is almost 100% over, we’re having a wonderful almost 100% party week, where we will leave the fucking house and see people.

And while still being cautiously optimistic, I’m hoping that this summer, we’ll be going back to hotels and the beach and the Jerusalem zoo and the aquarium. Hell, we should have a holiday for that too. The evil Covid tried to kill us, we kicked its ass, let’s party!

Peace, love and pretty dresses.

Call it ‘Fuck Yes’ Cards

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I had a nice and productive morning today, so I was kind of hoping my productivity streak would continue through to the afternoon once I make it to the office.

After my husband and daughter left at 8 a.m., I said I’ll do some laundry, bake a cake and then go back to sleep before heading out for my afternoon shift. I banged out two loads of laundry, one which I hung to dry, the other which I tossed in the dryer, then folded and stored. I baked a chocolate cake for Shabbat while the machines were going full throttle. I had leftover spaghetti as a pre-lunch meal (“brunch” seems too fancy a word). I washed the dishes a couple hundred times, made an omelet sandwich for lunch, and washed the dishes again.

*Flexing fist*

In between all of these, I observed the two minutes of silence during the siren for Yom Hashoah.

*Flexing fist again because seriously, fuck Nazis*

Clearly, I had no time to sleep, so I got dressed and left for work.

I took some of my art supplies with me because as I said, I hoped my productivity would hold up. My overseas zinester friends and I are trying to put together an oracle card calendar. So my project for today was trying to figure out what I want my oracle card to look like. I realized the dimensions of the card (2.5″ x 3.5″) are nice and limiting. I tried to use a ruler, and it looked even smaller than I thought. I looked at my art supplies with disappointment, and opened Photoshop instead.

When inspiration doesn’t happen and when I have no idea what I’m doing (I’m still not fully sure what an oracle card even is), computer programs at least give me the illusion that I’m trying. First, I made one card I wasn’t happy with, and I thought “Ugh, this is hopeless. Productivity was definitely done the minute I left my house.”

I figured if I go on making cards I’m not happy with, maybe I’ll just use them for my next zine. That first card can definitely fit because it covers the same topic of Multi-Gender Hebrew that I’ll write about in my next zine.

Then I thought maybe it’s because Yom Hashoah doesn’t seem like the right day for making art. Or maybe, in the back of my mind, an “oracle” is something I associate with avoda zara, which is DEFINITELY NOT something I should be doing today out of all days.

But then I thought maybe if I make my oracle card Jew-oriented or focused on something else entirely, I can get it into my mind that it’s got nothing to do with idolatry, or even religion at all. It’s something that they mentioned in the zoom meeting my friends had about oracle cards. I can simply call it something else.

And that’s when the obvious one hit – an oracle card in honor of Yom Hashoah! As the inspiration hit, I was afraid to lose it again, so I decided to make it quick, and the only way to do that was on computer. I’m actually very happy and totally proud of how it came out.

The quote I used is a line from the song “The Last Enemy” by Arch Enemy. Powerful, isn’t it? So yeah, no oracle here. Only inspiration, pride and power. I’ll go on making cards that make you go “Fuck yes”!

Peace, love and how about a metal card? The King of Diamonds would win!

Holidays in Lockdown

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In past years, during the Tishrei holidays, I always complained that I spend too much time in the goddamn car commuting between families, and having to deal with said families who can get insanely loud and overwhelming, and subsequently dealing with an overstimulated baby who won’t fall asleep anywhere but her own bed and her own room. I hated the holidays because of it and kept wishing to go back home where it’s always nice and quiet.

Well, this year, I guess I got my wish. Rosh Hashana, Kippur, Succot, and all days in between, are spent in lockdown. The only family I see are my in-laws who live right above us, and my parents in Be’er Sheva through a computer screen.

So on one hand, I’m actually glad. I can’t deny that, really, because it’s an absolute pleasure to avoid having my eardrums shredded by loudass family members who keep arguing about the prayers and blessings and the different customs of different families, which makes the meal that much longer and louder and just fucking annoying.

There was still a bit of arguing between me and my father-in-law regarding the same issues. I won the argument because I got a crash course from my dad right before the holiday started all about the way we do the Rosh Hashana ritual seder. But as opposed to previous years, the argument was only between two people and not 30 of them.

On the other hand of the I’m-glad-we’re-in-lockdown spectrum, Yom Kippur is the only holiday where a lockdown will not be a blessing. Every year, on the last two hours of the fast, I used to go to the synagogue next to our house to take part in the neila and hear the shofar before going home to break the fast. But not this year. This year, I’ll have to make do with going out to the porch and struggle to hear the shofar. On such Kippur days, if I don’t hear the shofar, it feels like I fasted for nothing. That’s besides the fact that I love the neila. It’s a series of beautiful prayers and chants, and with an empty body and mind I truly feel a connection with the Divine Entity. It’s a cleansing of the spirit you can’t get anywhere else, and I’m so upset I won’t get it this year, all because some stupid idiots thought it wise to go walking around with no mask and hugging instead of distancing in the middle of a pandemic. The number of cases shot right up and a lockdown was inevitable. So here we are, and here I am. Fasting for no reason.

The holiday of Succot will be both good and bad in terms of lockdown. Good because once again, I’ll be avoiding a family gathering loud as fucking hell. Bad because we have no Succah and we won’t build one, and I won’t get a chance to hold the minim and smell the plant I was named for (hadassim or myrtle), and I won’t celebrate my birthday with the ones who gave birth to me in the first place. My parents will stay in Be’er Sheva. I will stay in Jerusalem. Succot will suck, and my birthday will pass like it never even happened in the first place.

It remains to be seen whether or not my extended family will even remember it’s my birthday. After last year and the birthday that never happened, in conjunction with the element of a lockdown this year, I’m not holding any hopes for a single miserable mazal tov from anyone but my immediate family… and maybe some Facebook friends who get a notification.

But back to the good hand, I’m glad we’re in lockdown. Maybe the skeptics will turn out to be wrong. Maybe all the left-wing, unmasked, squished-like-sardines, forgot-what-we’re-even-protesting-for, loser hippies will wake the fuck up and realize that science exists. Maybe the cases will drop like they did in April. Maybe we can stay alive and healthy long enough to get a vaccine. Maybe the lockdown will turn out to be only a good thing, and none of the bad things.

Maybe we’ll be able to say happy holidays and it will actually be so.

Peace, love and as far as I’m concerned, y’all can throw away the key.