Skills with Skillets

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Out of all my efforts to bake or cook an appropriate treat or dish corresponding to every holiday, my Passover challenges were always the most difficult ones, and thus failed more miserably than any other food I tried to make.

But not this year! This year, I managed to make not one but two reasonable things and I’m so fucking proud of myself, you know some showing off is in order.

First up, Passover buns! Looks like bread. Tastes like bread. But is not chametz, yet yummy as fuck.

I got the recipe from my aunt this time instead of off a website. Obviously, I trust my family’s recipes more than whatever sketchy ones I get from some impersonal website out there. My family is Moroccan, so like, duh, they make the best food ever. And the Passover buns were spectacular. Even my in-laws from the States, who are super picky when it comes to food, gave them rave reviews. Even my kid loved it. So yeah, that’s a big achievement indeed!

The second food I made is a dairy take on the matza rolls my mother-in-law makes every year. She usually makes these fried matza rolls stuffed with mashed potato, and they’re terrific. But I found a different recipe for them on Hashef Halavan website and decided to give it a shot. These are fried matza rolls stuffed with mashed potato and four different kinds of cheese – white cheese, cottage cheese, Bulgarian cheese, and flakes of yellow cheese. The first batch I made didn’t taste as cheesy as it should. My husband said it tastes exactly like the ones his mom makes. But I had a fuckload of cheese left over, so I corrected the amounts, and the second batch tasted much better. I still have some leftover of the mixture, so I’ll make a third batch today with whatever matza we have left. Even if Passover is over, these rolls are great any time. And considering my kid digs it too, it’s totally worth it!

The next holiday is Yom Hashoah, but I won’t be making any food for that day for all the obvious reasons. This is not a celebration but a day of mourning. But the following week, there is Yom Hazikaron immediately followed by Yom Haatzmaut. And Israeli Independence Day is definitely a time for FALAFEL! I hope I can score a decent recipe for it and have yet another opportunity to show off my kickass kitchen skills.

Peace, love Passover mission: Accomplished!

Adar Bet

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Earlier, I wrote about how much I needed to find something to keep myself busy that doesn’t involve house chores or work, and that I’m pretty happy that I found a drawing course. So yes, I’m happy about that.

But now, it seems like I have TOO many things on my hands and I’m swamped every day of the week, and by the end of the day, I fucking collapse on the couch so hard it hurts. Every Sunday, I wake up thinking, “OK, I just need to survive this week and I’ll be fine.” And then I drag myself out of bed, unable to open my eyes (not only because I’m still half-asleep, but also because I have an eye infection or yet another Blepharitis flare-up that just won’t go away) and struggle to do whatever needs to be done to “survive this week”.

Next week, however, is going to be a little different because it’s Purim week. First, on Sunday I’m going in to the eye doctor because seriously, dude, I’ve had it with these bloodshot, sandpapery eyes. On Tuesday, my kid is having a costume party at gan and it ends early. On Wendnesday, she has camp and also finishes early. She also has a special Purim gymnastics class on that day where they asked that the kids come dressed in their costumes. Then Thursday, we both have the day off. We’ll spend the day trying out a new Bissli schnitzel recipe for lunch, and baking Hamantaschen for dessert. In the evening, we have a children’s play of the Megilah story of Purim by my kid’s favorite TV characters. Once again, she’ll be going in her costume because, obviously, her costume is of one of these characters!

So although it’s a packed week and it definitely won’t keep me from my eventual crash and burn on the sofa every evening, it still sounds like fun! Especially for my kid, and I love seeing her happy and enjoy herself.

What about you? Any special plans for the holiday? What costume will you be wearing at work?

Happy Purim, fellow Jews! Have fun getting drunk!

Peace, love and mi sheh-, mi sheh-, mi sheh-

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

Hadaß Badaß

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Sometimes, when a German song goes on my player, I wonder how funny it would be if my family heard that song and how they would react to it. I remember visiting my aunt in Los Angeles once and at some point during dinner, I got thirsty and said “Wasser, bitte!” My aunt did not understand but she got that it was German and said “No German on this table!” as if I had just cursed or something.

My cousin said he hates German because there’s so much “phlegm” sounds in it “It’s all chh, chh, chh,” he said. As it turns out, most of the “phlegm” sounds in German are much more refined. They sound like something between “ch” and “sh” – not much throat is being used. In fact, there are a lot more phlegm sounds in Hebrew, but my cousin ignores that because to him, German is still a gross language.

It made me think about the associations that we make to some languages and how it affects how we feel about them. Like, why is French the language of love? Or maybe it’s Spanish, the language of romance. Chinese, even though it’s the most spoken language in the world, is one that nobody seems to understand because we always say “It’s Chinese to me”.

So with German, the association that people make is automatically World War 2. For the Jewish people, it’s automatically Hitler and the Holocaust. I admit, I too was indoctrinated from a young age to associate German and Germany with its negative history. I literally know nothing of German history except for the years of 1933 to 1945. The first person I heard speaking German was Hitler, when they showed us videos of his speeches back in high school. Being in a private Jewish school, not a week went by without some mention of it. Even on holidays.

On Purim, we talked about Haman. “Who does it remind you of?” the teacher asks. And we would answer almost in unison “Hitler.” In fact, some believe that 11 out of the 12 people who were sentenced to death during the Nuremberg trials were actually the reincarnations of Haman and his 10 sons who were also sentenced to death and hanged.

On Passover, it was Pharaoh. He tossed the Hebrews’ newborn babies into the Nile. Of course he’s Hitler.

By Secondary 5 (Grade 11), I got into Rammstein, and German suddenly didn’t seem so ugly to me anymore. Then I heard other people speaking German. Just random people on the street and tourists, and it actually started to sound beautiful. The accent, the refined “shh” sounds, the O’s and the U’s with the two dots on top of them that sound almost like the way E and U are pronounced in French. I fell in love with it, tried learning it, started listening to other German bands, got excited every time I heard of a new German word I never knew before (“Scheissdreck” is still my all-time favorite), lost my mind over my typewriter when I discovered it was in German and included the letter ß.

So the association somewhat changed for me. It got me thinking “what if it was the other way around?” For example, Italian. We think of it as a beautiful language because we associate it with art and spirituality. We think of Rome and the Vatican, the architecture, the vibrant culture and art of the Renaissance. We think of da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, and the rest of the Ninja Turtles namesakes. With such stunningly beautiful cities like Venice, Florence, Rome, and Tuscany, is it any wonder why we think of Italian as a beautiful language?

What if the association was reversed? What if Italian also made us think of World War 2? Italy was an Axis power. Mussolini was a cruel and ruthless dictator who ruled Italy with an iron fist for two decades – well before WW2 ever began. It is said that Hitler actually looked up to Mussolini as a mentor and as a role model. And the fact that Mussolini was a fascist, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he was as much of an anti-Semite as Hitler was. With that association in mind, Italian doesn’t sound as pretty anymore.

But we still think of German as the language of evil because Mussolini was not the one who instigated a systematic extermination of European Jewry.

But again, what if it was the other way around? Germany is a beautiful country with a rich culture as well. I don’t know much of it because, like I said, they never taught us anything of Germany besides the ugly stuff. But thinking of German culture, I think of great beer and Oktoberfest, I think of good food like schnitzel and strudel that were both adopted by Israel, a bunch of German words that were also adopted by Hebrew speakers (the latest one I learned of is “Gummi” – rubber), and Yiddish would never have existed if it wasn’t for German. For real, these languages are almost identical. You wouldn’t believe how many German words I learned simply by hanging out with people who speak Yiddish.

And of course, I think of German music. And I don’t just mean Rammstein and Vogelfrey, which my family would undoubtedly hate not just because of the language but also because they’re both metal bands – music that my family cannot stand. I mean the classics – Beethoven, Bach, Mozart – they were all German, and they composed the most beautiful tunes in the world. I honestly think that contemporary music would not be what it is if it wasn’t for those legendary composers. Thinking of these beautiful musical sounds, German suddenly sounds just as beautiful.

Yes, Hitler was a motherfucking monster. Yes, Nazi Germany was sadistic and hateful and we’re all glad it was destroyed. Yes, the Holocaust was horrible beyond words can ever express. It’s the darkest time, not only in German history but also in Jewish history. It’s a part of mine and my people’s history, and nothing will ever change that.

But I don’t think that we should praise or demonize a language just because of the associations we make. It makes no sense. Wars and death do not define a language. Neither does love and romance.

So the next time I get thirsty right about the same time I get struck by an uncontrollable urge to speak the most beautiful and lyrical language in the world, and say “Wasser, bitte!” please shut the fuck up and give me some damn water.

Peace, love and scheissdreck forever

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!

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.

Blood, Frogs and Lice

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My previous blog post was about the quaranzine I have yet to start. I need to start brainstorming on it at some point but I keep coming back to the one central issue that I think not many quaranzinesters would write about – Passover in quarantine.

I dont know many (or any) Jewish zinesters. So it might be interesting to explore this topic that non-Jews and non-Israelis might not know anything about. What is Passover, what it involves, why is it so necessary for us to congregate during this holiday, and also why some people would even be willing to transgress on some of the commandments of this holiday simply to be with their family in whatever way possible.

Also, seeing as I will mostly write this as a perzine, I will also discuss my experience with this year’s holiday Seder, which for the record was fucking awesome.

I would also like to know how my Jewish friends – religious and secular – are dealing with this. Do they find it hard to not be with their family? How was their Seder? Did they even bother doing it at all? Or were they too depressed with the whole thing?

So maybe my brainstorming will start with this point – Seder be’Seger – Passover eve in lockdown. And maybe giving thanks that this year we only need to deal with one plague and not 10 of them.

Peace, love and why is this night different from all other nights? Hakol nishtana.