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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 13, 2004 / 1 Teves, 5765

Chanukah: The quintessential female holiday?

By Andrea Simantov


Hmmm.



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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My fondest childhood memories always involved rituals.


The end of August meant riding a New York city bus with Mom in order to buy a new plaid book bag, 10 black & white speckled notebooks and a utilitarian pair of Buster Brown shoes. A routine visit to the pediatrician meant clean underwear, coloring books and, if there was an injection involved, a compensatory milk shake at the corner malt shop. Passover meant spring-cleaning, jellied fruit slices and sleepover guests. But what made these rituals even more poignant — reflecting today from the podium of middle age — is the role my mother played.


Mom always stood center stage and orchestrated the rituals of our lives, reveling in her role as the generic, indomitable Jewish woman.


Despite the generous airtime given to Judah Maccabee and his band of fighting yeshiva buddies, Hanukah has always been a woman's holiday in my home. I always felt a natural affinity for righteous radicals including Judith, the beautiful daughter of Yochanan the High Priest.


Surprisingly rebellious for the era, she took issue with a royal decree which awarded 'first night rights' to the local ruler, allowing him to sleep with a Jewish bride before releasing her into the custody of her new husband.


On the eve of her own wedding, Judith made the required appearance before the supervising magistrate and seductively fed him dairy foods until he became thirsty. Plying him with wine until he got drunk and fell asleep, this very determined young woman severed his head and carried it to Jerusalem. Needless to say, the Syrian soldiers ran for the hills.


Threatening death to transgressors, the Greeks prohibited many important rituals. With nowhere else to turn, Jewish women had their babies circumcised even when it meant doing it themselves. In order to pressure husbands and brothers to wage war against the Greeks, many women threw themselves and their babies from the walls of Jerusalem, making a creative point: You will have neither children nor wives if you do not give us the right to publicly observe what is holy to us.


Inspired by these brave women, Matisyahu and his five sons eventually rose up, paving the way for Hanukah miracles.


Talk about the feminine power of persuasion.


While I wouldn't necessarily volunteer to perform a bris, Hanukah is one holiday when I intrepidly enter the kitchen and, using an old but serviceable blueprint, locate the stove. Wielding a dusty heirloom cast-iron skillet, I gather my young'uns around me and impart all aspects of the holiday including the special fat-laden cuisine.


Affectionately referring to this holiday of lights as the 'peptic ulcer season', I introduce such epicurean delights as Croquettes du Pomme Frites (the Eastern European shtetl latke) and Gala Puff-Pastry Surprise (in Brooklyn, the Dunkin Donut).


Every year, come holiday time, I search every shelf until I find a carton filled with ceremonial objects specific to the holiday at hand. With Hanukah's approach, I urgently begin pulling bathing suits and multi-colored Purim baskets out of storage trunks until I find the precious box, which typically heralds winter in Israel.


This year's bonus find was a set of misplaced hand weights and a grainy, 1987 Jane Fonda exercise video. Blinking back tears, I peer inside and find myself staring into yesteryear. I behold nursery school art pieces made of painted plywood — some of the metal-bolt candleholders still firmly attached.


Another creation, composed of gray clay and embedded walnut shell halves, is heavier than I remember. A patina of burnt olive oil remains — shiny, black and fragrant. And a round cookie tin that had served as a swimming pool menorah causes me to wince at the memory of sinking candles.


I am grateful, suddenly, for the gift of foresight in not holding onto the infamous Raw Potato Candelabrum. To this day I can't decide whether it was a theme piece in keeping with the latke tradition, or a subtle tribute to Irish Jewry.


The smell of doughnuts traumatizes me. This may have something to do with the time I volunteered to purchase them for our local nursery school. Carrying a covered tray of 50 jelly-filled sufganiot, I attempted to leap over a dirty puddle wearing an already too-tight skirt. Suddenly I found myself lying face up in the service road of a major Jerusalem thoroughfare. My stockings and coat were torn but it was my already-fragile ego that sustained the greatest injury. I rallied, however, upon hearing the gathered crowd applaud as one onlooker gently lifted the loosened plastic wrap and announced, in several languages, that all 50 pastries were intact.


Hanukah also allows me to display, once a year, a glaringly under-appreciated musical acumen. Perched in front of an out-of-tune Baby Grand piano, I merrily plunk out several lively tunes from a book called "Harvest of Jewish Music". My children listen in a near-catatonic state and some of them actually sing along with me — between the fits of laughter.


Laughter aside, I'm continually amazed at the important role ritual has played in my own life. There is comfort to be found in the smallest of acts. By reenacting the traditions of my mother and those of my foremothers, I can practice self-expression while simultaneously remaining connected to the larger tapestry of Jewish culture and history.

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JewishWorldReview.com contributor Andrea Simantov is a Jerusalem-based columnist and single mother of six. Comments by clicking here.




© 2004, Andrea Simantov. This column first appeared in Orange County Jewish Life