December 26, 2005 |
When I was a child, growing up in suburban New Jersey, I always looked forward to this time of year. I loved watching the neighbors put up their Christmas lights, which would sparkle in the night as I peeked out my window after bedtime. One day, I told my parents how pretty the lights were. That night, we got in the car after dark and drove around the neighborhood, admiring the multicolored displays of blinking lights. "Why can't we have lights in front of our house?" I asked as we drove up our driveway into the garage.
December 26, 2005 |
The rattling of presents began before dawn. By 10 a.m., many church services were in full swing or already over. By late afternoon, dinner was being served. And by evening, candles were being lit on the menorah. It was Christmas - the culmination of weeks of harried preparation for one of the nation's biggest holidays - and Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Families around the region celebrated both holidays yesterday with food, togetherness and gifts. For some, presents were delivered by strangers such as Keith Groves, who works for Operation Angel Tree.
December 22, 2005 |
Deep in South Philadelphia, close to the stadiums where parking is a full-time pursuit, Sandy Pilla and Simon Wolf make their home. There's a mezuzah on the front door frame, and, in the picture window, a stuffed Santa and a Hanukkah menorah. Inside, the ketubah (marriage contract) from their July 2004 wedding - conducted by a priest and a rabbi - hangs on one wall, and in another frame is a marriage blessing signed by Pope John Paul II. And in the kitchen, a copy of Joyce Goldstein's Cucina Ebraica - Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen.
December 20, 2005
When I was a youth, Christmas seemed so magical. My mother would make Christmas Eve dinner with turkey, ham, and apple and sweet potato pies. My younger brother and I would hide in our rooms and wrap gifts at the last minute. We would then bake cookies for Santa and watch Christmas specials on television. When night came, we would watch the snowflakes fall while drinking hot lemonade. But as I got older, the magic faded away, and I began to see what truly happened behind the scenes.
November 29, 2005
IN KEEPING WITH the tradition of Festivus, we begin this joyful holiday season with the airing of grievances. Store cashiers disappoint us because they say "happy holidays" after handing you your bags of gifts. What's wrong with just "thank you, hope you avoid bankruptcy. " Some ministers disappoint us because they want to boycott department stores that don't include "Merry Christmas" in their advertisements. Hey, why not protest the whole commercialization of Christmas, Christ or no Christ?
December 17, 2004 |
As we approach that day called Christmas, now referred to as Xmas or the "holiday season," it saddens me to see what it has truly become. Most people have fallen victim to retailers' strategies and spend, spend, spend - and then spend some more. We seem to have lost the spirit and the true meaning of what should be one of the most beautiful and holy days of the year. Why are we so intent on destroying this day? Where is the joy that Christmas is supposed to bring? Look at the stressed-out, unhappy faces of shoppers struggling through overcrowded, overhyped Xmas sales.
December 6, 2004 |
I gave birth to my daughter, Arianna, on the second-to-last night of Hanukkah in 2001. Just before the orderlies took me to the delivery room, a Jewish physician came to my room and asked whether I wanted to light the Hanukkah menorah. Well, as any woman who has been in labor for 19 hours can attest, I was not in the mood to light the menorah at that moment. My husband thanked the well-meaning, if ill-timed, physician and wished him a good holiday. A few minutes later, when they wheeled me out into the hall, I saw that he had lit the menorah right outside my room.
December 2, 2004 |
If there's a food with nearly universal appeal, it would probably be the potato, and, more specifically, potato pancakes or latkes, as they are called in Yiddish and traditionally served by Jews at Hanukkah time. Certainly, you don't have to be Jewish to love latkes, commonly made from grated potatoes and onions and fried in oil. Or to make them. Similar dishes of fried potatoes are found in many cultures and cuisines, including American hash browns, Indian aloo tikki, Swiss roesti, and more.
November 29, 2004 |
Halls were holly-decked, shoppers swarmed Santa, and the air jingled with carols and bells. "Mommy, they have so much Christmas stuff in the malls," 6-year-old Sophie Freedman complained to her mother last year. "Why don't they do anything for us?" The relentless onslaught of Christmas cheer is one reason that Sophie looks forward to Hanukkah Wonderland every year. Part gift shop, part craft center, part game room, this year's wonderland fills an empty bank building in the Summit Square Shopping Center in Middletown.
March 18, 2004 |
Mel Gibson has conquered the box office with The Passion of the Christ, his foreign-language epic biopic about the last hours in the life of Jesus. And Gibson conquered those heights even though a number of Jewish groups have complained that the film sends an anti-Semitic message. Now, Gibson has told WABC Radio's Sean Hannity that he plans to make a flick about a Jewish rebellion in Roman-controlled Jerusalem 200 years before the birth of Christ. That would be the event celebrated each year at Hanukkah.