Thursday, December 10, 2020

Time to Lighten Up!

My last blog post was in August - when I was "still waiting". And in many ways, I still am. But all that waiting got in the way of moving on. It got in the way of sending out a Rosh Hashanah mailing (and oh how I missed your good new year wishes in response). It got in the way of fully enjoying the holidays. It got in the way of seeing how much kindness and generosity has come out of this pandemic and in how many ways I'd like to think I'm growing as a result of it.

A wonderful and very wise woman who I am honored to count among my readership, commented on my last post. She said: "I hope that I can say that I am mitzapeh for the geulah (await/anticipate the final redemption), but there are so many things of beauty that surround me every moment that in truth this takes up most of the space." 

In short: Lighten Up, Sharon.

I accepted her gentle rebuke but didn't actually do anything about it until now. 

And what better time to Lighten Up than Chanuka? The Chanuka hymn that we sing as we light our menorahs states: "k'day l'hodos u'l'hallel..." - we celebrate Chanuka in order to thank and praise G-d for all His miracles, wonders and salvation. It doesn't say "...except during a pandemic". Because even under lockdown, in quarantine, masked and socially distanced there are miracles, wonders and salvation everywhere. Yes, even here, even now. Which reminds me of my Chanuka POem, written in 2003, revisited on this blog eleven years ago, revised and updated below. 

But first, how are you? I hope you're finding ways to stay simultaneously safe and sane. Unemployed since corona came around, I've been keeping busy with small projects, volunteer work, being available for the grandkids and...

...baking cookies! Trying not to eat up the profits lest I have a whole 'nother kind of Lightening Up to do ;-)

I'm zooming in to some excellent Torah classes, some live from the holy Land - and video chatting with friends there as well. These days, I don't really have to *Remember* Jerusalem. I just click on the link and I'm there! Wouldn't it be nice if I could bite into a hot caramel sufganiya (Chanuka donut) via Zoom...? On that dreamy note, Happy Chanuka to you. May the flames of the menorah Lighten Up your week and your mood and illuminate all the miracles and wonders in your life. And now, that POem...

The Land of PO

If you know me at all then you surely do know

that at Chanuka time I loved being PO.

PO, of course, means here, which I am

but "here" is only POetic in our holy Land.

In Israel, the dreidel knows just what to say: 

Nes Gadol Haya PO*! which is spelled with a pey

But here we say "there" which is so much less fun. 

Here, the pey on the dreidel's a shin as in shom.


Here, everything's all lit up green and red. "Seasonal" tunes are forced into my head. There, the streets are aglow with menorahs at night

and the sufganiyot are a month-long delight.

Yes, I’m here now, not there. (Or am I “there” now – not “here”?)

But wherever I am, the memories are clear.

If I’ll just close my eyes, I will see once again

Chanuka lights of the Land, all a'bren**.

And I won't let corona get in the way

of the happiness built into this holiday.

I will speak words of thanks and sing songs of praise

to Hashem on each one of these eight special days,

recalling the time when those nissim*** took place

and the re-dedication of our holiest space.

We can all celebrate any place that we are

because, in our hearts, we are never too far


from the Light that will draw us back Home very soon,

a light brighter still than the sun or the moon.

Let us hope that Mashiach arrives any day

so that all of our dreidels next year will say pey.

*Nes Gadol Haya PO - a great miracle happened here
**a'bren - burning
***nissim - miracles