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.
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!
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:
I don’t trust people. There is no telling if anyone there is vaccinated/tested negative. These are easy things to forge/fake.
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.
Hotel = Not my home.
Beach = Sand getting fucking everywhere.
Pool = Way too many kids, way too fucking loud.
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.
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.
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!
It feels like I’m being used at a tug-a-rope war because I’m being torn in half. I hear reports from every side and I just don’t know what to believe anymore. I feel like I used to a few years back when I was constantly made to doubt myself, to double check my beliefs, question my convictions, being gaslighted by everyone and from everywhere, feeling like an idiot if I believe one thing and feeling naïve if I believe the other. I haven’t felt like that for years, and the therapy I went through, which taught me to have faith in myself, is starting to deteriorate right before my eyes. This is where I’m at now and I hate it.
The first issue is the Corona vaccine. When I heard that the first shipment made it to Israel, I was thrilled about it and started to believe that I could finally “see the light at the end of the tunnel” as the Prime Minister said. Said tunnel is a fucking hellhole, if you ask me, but the vaccines could finally get us out of there. And I was steadfast in my belief that things will start looking up.
But then, the skeptics came just as soon as the shipment of the vaccine touched down. And this time, it wasn’t just the usual anti-vaxxers who everyone knows are full of shit. This time, we’re hearing reports from doctors and other professionals in the field. That is, some of them are speaking in favor of the vaccine, and the others are fervently against it, citing lack of evidence regarding potential long-term side-effects. Both sides present plausible arguments and reasonable facts, and this is what is making me doubt my formerly steadfast belief.
I was following the reports of the development of the vaccine on a regular and almost obsessive basis and kept hoping for a fast and efficient solution to this worldwide crisis. Now that this solution is at our doorstep, I don’t know if I should be happy or terrified of it.
My husband said we should wait to see what the effects are on the first people who do get the vaccine (i.e. the elderly, the healthcare workers, and high-risk patients). Obviously, this isn’t about waiting. The only people who are allowed to get the vaccine are the ones mentioned above and that does not include us. Then again, if the vaccines will open to the general public in March, as reports say, is that enough time to see if the vaccine has any long-term effects? What is long-term? Is that a matter of months or years? Meanwhile, the long-term effects of this crisis on the economy are just as fucked up. People are losing their jobs, their lives, their mind. We’re at the start of a third-wave and looking at another lockdown in recent days, and all that because people lost their faith in everything – masks, social distancing, proper hygiene, Corona test results, politicians, doctors, and now also the vaccine.
This upcoming lockdown is another thing that is tearing me apart. Politicians are pushing for a partial lockdown during Hanukkah, forbidding the public from attending Hanukkah ceremonies and visiting family and friends. We’re due to travel to Be’er Sheva for a weekend at my parents’ place, and no decisions have yet been made about what this lockdown will restrict and if it will be implemented at all.
Our plans are stalling and it’s just as fucked up as everything else that has to do with this awful crisis. So are we going? Are we not going? Will we get fined if we go? Is visiting my parents worth paying the fine? If the lockdown is only in the evening hours, can we make the trip work if we keep by the hours? Is it worth the white nights we will undoubtedly have because these hours will destroy my daughter’s sleeping patterns?
Why do politicians and doctors and pessimist skeptics have to always destroy everything? I just want this to end. I thought everyone did. Apparently, I was wrong.
*Sufgies: short for “sufganiyot”, Hanukkah doughnuts *Sfinj: Moroccan doughnuts
Last year on Hanukkah, I decided to avoid the bakery doughnuts because I was worried about the people who work there who may or may not wash their hands after wiping their ass and then proceed to kneading dough. I found a recipe for oven-baked sufgies and I thought it was perfect because I was just as scared of deep frying as I was of fecal bacteria. The sufgies turned out as hard as rocks and dry as sand.
This year on Hanukkah, it’s not just fecal bacteria I’m worried about. It’s fecal bacteria with a Covid twist. So I decided to de-wuss myself and dive right into deep frying. The recipe I got was from one of my daughter’s aprons that she got at Gan. You know the ones with recipes on them? The kids get one on Purim with a Hamantaschen recipe and one on Hanukkah with a doughnuts recipe.
My husband ordered the ingredients along with his weekly delivery of groceries. And I set on my journey of making my first ever batch of classic deep-fried Hanukkah doughnuts on my free Friday morning. The dough was too sticky at first but it was nothing a bit of extra flour couldn’t fix. The sufgies came out smaller than I had intended, but it was perfect for our purposes. Thus, we can avoid eating too much and definitely avoid giving my daughter far more sugar than my maternal brain can handle.
After they cooled, I took seven sufgies, injected them with jelly, and sprinkled them with powdered sugar, as per the custom. I took a bite out of one and it wasn’t bad. But the true test came later, once my husband got home.
One of life’s greatest pleasures is seeing someone enjoying something that you made. I think that’s how I feel about zines, but for the past couple of days it was more about food. This was the first time I saw and heard my husband losing his tuque about my cooking. I don’t ever recall him saying “Mmmm, waai waai!” and shaking his head in utter pleasure because of anything I made. I gave him the plate of the sufgies I had stuffed and sprinkled, and he took them upstairs to his mom, then came storming back down telling me to send some more so his mother can serve them for dessert tonight.
“She said that for this reason she won’t be making any sfinj this year!” He said triumphantly.
I was so happy and proud of myself, I started laughing my ass off. My sufganiyot. The first time I ever make them with a classic recipe. These sufganiyot that I made caused a native Moroccan mother to avoid making the authentic Moroccan Hanukkah delicacy that is sfinj! I couldn’t believe it!
The rest of the family loved them just as much when they were served that Friday evening. My sister-in-law asked that I send her the recipe. Apparently her kids never got an apron with a sufgies recipe before.
The next day was Saturday morning. We set a playdate for my daughter with her friend from Gan. Her mother and I got talking about birthdays.
“That cake you made for your daughter’s birthday,” the mother said, “was the first cake my daughter ever praised out loud.” Apparently, she had never said anything about just how delicious a cake was until she tasted the one I made for my kid’s celebration at Gan. I thought it was a plain chocolate cake that I always make, this time topped with chocolate mousse and decorated with fondant and chocolate candy. It didn’t seem to be that special, but it was.
Added to the pride I felt the day before, at that point I was overwhelmed. I’m not as bad at this as I thought I was.
When I spoke to my mother that evening, she said “Of course, when you’re motivated and you try really hard, you can make anything work.”
Pfff, right! I remember my husband’s birthday in August, when I tried “really hard” and made two cakes, both of which failed, plus the gift I got for him which ended up being useless and is sitting on my bedside table collecting dust until this day. I finally broke down crying on that day.
It’s got nothing to do with hard work and everything to do with sheer luck. Sometimes you own the shit, and sometimes it fails miserably.
This time I owned the sufgies and kicked all ass. At least I proved to myself that luck sometimes works in my favor.
Peace, love and greasy and homemade is still better than infected and sketchy.
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.
I haven’t made a zine since ZineWriMo 2019 (that was last November). I thought about making a zine and wrote about making a zine but never sat my ass down to actually make one. And now that International Zine Month is right around the corner, I’m not any more enthusiastic or inspired or excited for it as I should be or as I have been in previous years.
This whole Corona business is making me too upset and no good thing can come of it. My life got boring because I’m too scared to do anything interesting that slightly diverts from my routine. There are no events happening and even if there are, I don’t want to take part in it because of this fear.
The Iron Maiden show I wanted to go to got cancelled. The season I was so looking forward to – Summer – also got cancelled. We can’t go to any hotels or to the beach or do anything that involves any summer fun. All the activism events that I take part in on an annual basis also got cancelled. All the festivals, trips, parties, holidays, absolutely everything that makes life fun as shit, all of it got flushed down the toilet.
While everybody is trying to find ways to entertain themselves without putting themselves at any risk, I’m trying to find ways to check the fuck out. Sleep is always a decent option, even while nightmares about contracting Corona abound. Stephen King books are definitely the best escape and I read my way to blissful oblivion about characters who have it much worse than me (and anyway, most of the time there is a happy ending to the stories). Watching TV also works sometimes because it promptly makes me fall asleep.
But all of those things require zero inspiration which is what makes them so attractive. The 31 activities lined up for International Zine Month 2020 require a substantial amount of inspiration, which is why I would most likely not do any of them. Sorry that this post doesn’t have a happy ending. Believe me, I would love nothing more than that.
Still no zine on the horizon. Neither is the end to this pandemic. It looks like the Fall holidays will be spent in quarantine just like it happened on Passover. Will my daughter even go back to Kindergarten next year? What about Hannukah? What about Purim? Will there be a vaccine before then? Holidays are supposed to be fun. Summer is supposed to be fun. IZM is supposed to be super fucking fun. Now all of it just looks like a detestable chore that no one wants to do. At least to me it does. I hope other zinesters are doing better than me, and view this month as a chance to cheer the fuck up.
Fuck this depressing shit. I’m going back to Stephen King.
Peace, love and wishing for the end is not a good way to live.
Though it hasn’t completely ended yet, the situation in Israel is getting better and people are slowly starting to reclaim their routine. So here’s what went down in my badass isolation.
Total time spent at home:
I counted 56 days in my calendar from the first day I spent at home with my daughter until the last one which was this past Saturday, due to the virus. She is now back at gan, but only for half a week at a time, and I’m back at the office but only on the days when she is at gan.
A nice big fat round zero. I was invited to several virtual zine-making events on Zoom but most of them were at times that didn’t fit my schedule… and no, I didn’t have much of a schedule anyway, but 2 a.m. doesn’t work for me because I’m too busy sleeping, and 6 p.m. doesn’t work for me because I’m too busy giving my daughter a bath, feeding her dinner and putting her to sleep. Any other time was also impossible because my daughter insisted I play with her and do nothing else besides that.
I managed to work from home a little bit but that didn’t keep me from coming back to a shitload of work at the office. My husband and I did manage to teach my daughter to ride her bike. That was a big plus. She also learned a whole bunch of new songs and some new words and phrases in English thanks to the countless hours of Dora and Diego she watched (the title of this post is a Dora reference and one of the phrases my daughter learned). We filled our days with exercise and outdoors time, baking and cooking, singing and dancing, feeding stray cats and trying to keep our dog from stealing our food.
We struggled with the deliveries from the supermarket. Most of the time they didn’t deliver what we ordered, essential things were missing, some were replaced with other stuff we don’t really care for… finally, my husband got pissed, geared up with gloves and masks and Alcogel, and went grocery shopping physically.
We were fortunate enough to have my parents-in-law living right above us, so being members of a Moroccan-Kurdish family, we got tons of awesome homemade food.
Despite that, I found myself cooking a lot more than usual. I also engaged in some therapy baking which also served to keep my daughter busy. Every time I so much as walked into the kitchen, she automatically jumped up and said “I want to help you!” So we baked a chocolate cake, then cookies, then two different types of banana cake, and it kicked all ass.
The most tricky one was Passover. This is a holiday you spend with your family. And if you don’t have a family, you spend it with your friends. And if you don’t have friends or family, you get off your ass and make some, because spending Passover alone is fucked up. That’s how Coronavirus fucked a lot of Jewish people up. So we set it up in a way that was fun and safe and not at all fucked up. We had a virtual Seder with my parents on the other side of the screen, and it worked out wonderfully.
After that was Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day). The custom is to rally up the friends and have a BBQ. That didn’t happen of course and it was probably the most boring and pointless Independence Day I ever had.
Tomorrow is Lag Baomer. The government already issued a ban on bonfires and rightly so because those who are sick with Covid-19 have enough trouble breathing as it is without the country going up in flames. I’m actually glad this holiday is cancelled.
Shavuot is coming up on May 28. I’m really hoping that the crisis is still declining at that time so that we can go to Be’er Sheva and spend a non-virtual holiday with my parents. I haven’t seen them in over two months and it’s super hard for everyone.
I also hope this shit will be over soon because this winter was too long and hard and I intend on going to the fucking beach this summer. Enough already! My daughter needs to work on her sandcastle-building technique, dammit!
The following will be a raging fucking angry feminist rant and if you have a problem with feminist statements, go fuck yourself and fuck off from my blog.
Today is International Women’s Day and I am filled with feminist venom and absolute anger at all this bullshit we call patriarchy and this bigger pile of bullshit we call society.
In fact, I am so angry, I am shaking with rage.
This morning was also the day when all the kids in Israel go to kindergarten in costumes for Purim. My daughter, being the awesome feminist firecracker she is, decided to become a superhero and dressed up as Catboy.
So when came the time to post her picture on the family Whatsapp group, I posted her picture, with her appropriate fist up in the air, and the tagline “Who goes into the night, so they can smash the patriarchy…” as a nice little feminist twist to the PJ Masks tune. And then I wished everyone a happy International Women’s Day.
One of my family members, who shall remain nameless, said that “this is a pleasant family group and not the place for ideological statements.”
Ideological statements? What ideological statements? That I happen to find IWD a day that is worth mentioning? That I took a children’s song and made it fit the above mentioned day? That my daughter chose an obvious “boy” costume even though she is female-bodied?
One family member stood up for me and that was a touching moment.
But the seed of anger has been planted and I am burned to a crisp with the hell I wish I could raise. Instead, I am seriously considering leaving this group because this isn’t the first time they have smashed my so-called “ideological statements”.
I once posted a picture of my daughter with her fist up in the air reading the book “Feminist Baby” with the tagline quote from the book: “Feminist Baby chooses what to wear, and if you don’t like it, she doesn’t care.” That also incited an insulting comment from the same person, followed by a supporting one from the same one who stood up for me this time as well.
After the sad wish-less birthday I had this past year, I am starting to think that my family simply do not know me at all.
So for those of you reading this, let me make it abundantly clear:
I AM A FEMINIST.
I AM INSTILLING FEMINIST VALUES WITHIN MY DAUGHTER.
I WILL KEEP MARCHING AT SLUTWALK AND I WILL KEEP MAKING FEMINIST STATEMENTS WHENEVER THEY APPLY.
This will never change, so you misogynistic losers better get used to it and fast.
I will not stop until this patriarchal society is bludgeoned bloody and crawling on its hands and knees.
Yesterday, my husband took my daughter out to the gymboree. I stayed home and tried to catch some Z’s before they came back home for lunch, but they were back pretty quickly.
“What happened?” I asked.
“We didn’t go to the gymboree at the end,” he said. “So I took her to the kids’ park but it was kinda cold so we didn’t stay for long.”
It turns out there was some kind of “Santas’ Parade” as my husband described it – a bunch of people dressed up as Santa marching around Jerusalem and streets were closed as a result of that.
“Well, you know. Christmas is coming up,” I said.
“It’s like in three fucking weeks from now!” He said (minus the f-word, but this is my blog and the F sounded fitting).
“Yes, well, these people start up with all their Christmas preparations the moment Halloween ends,” I said, Thanksgiving notwithstanding.
It is odd, however, that they would have a Christmas parade within Jerusalem proper. I know there are Christians living in Israel, but from what I understand, most of them restrict their Christian parades and festivities to their holy sites, which are mostly in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and stuff.
I remembered back in the day, when I lived in Montreal, this time of year would be saturated with jingles on the radio, Christmas specials on TV, Christmas commercials and ads a-plenty, and store display windows painted up and down with white, green and red. It made me sick. The only mentions of Hanukkah were in Judaica shops, synagogues, or businesses owned and operated by Jews. But I lived in exile, so what can I expect? I actually consider myself one of the lucky few Jews who don’t know the lyrics to all the jingles. In fact, I only know the satire lyrics like the ones written by Francois Perusse in French Canadian, or the hilarious ones that Achmed the Dead Terrorist sings (see “Jingle Bombs” on YouTube).
When I moved to Israel, I breathed a loud and gratifying sigh of relief. You barely feel any of the Christian holidays over here. Every once in a while, they would have a lo-fi Halloween party in some underground bar or something, or a New Year’s by-the-way mention in some random coffee shop. But the Jewish holidays are everywhere! Rosh Hashanah specials in stores, a succa in front of every restaurant during the Feast of the Tabernacles, an industrial amount of Hanukkah doughnuts in every coffee shop and bakery, and holiday greetings all over the place, even on the electronic signs on buses. It was such a refreshing change from the Halloween pumpkins, the fucking twinkling lights of Christmas and the inexplicable colorful chocolate eggs of Easter I’ve had to suffer back in Canada. It makes me smile when I see a menorah in my neighbors’ window instead of a decorated pine tree.
And of course, this has nothing to do with religion, but still it’s worth mentioning that seeing the country painted up and down with blue and white and Stars of David on Yom Haatzmaut is so much better than the red and white and maple leaves of Canada Day.
On my Facebook feed, I still get bombarded by Christmas stuff as my exiled friends are up to their necks in it. The rest of the world is still goyishly nice and treif. So I’ll just stay right here, where Jewish holidays rule, even with the Santas Parade.