Monthly Archives: December 2010

Spice World

Remember those days when you were younger and were really obsessed with something that turned out not to be so cool? Yeah. I had a number of those. (Although I will disagree with the rest of the world and maintain that Hercules and Xena were indeed awesome.)

Today’s focus: The Spice Girls.

Yes. The pop, all-girl singing group that was the rage back in the ’90s. Gigantic platformed boots, “girl power” – it’s all due to them: Scary, Baby, Sporty, Ginger and Posh.

Girls – remember all those discussions about which Spice Girl you were most like? I was Sporty. Surprise, surprise. Maybe because she was the only one who wore clothes that were even remotely comfortable looking. More likely because I took years of gymnastics lessons. Well, here are some Spice Girl memories. Feel free to share yours as well.

In Camp: One year, during the notorious lip-syncing night activity, some of the “popular” girls in my year decided to do a Spice Girls act. Between them, they had covered all the Spice Girls except for Sporty Spice. (Like omigosh, maybe one of them might break a nail!) So they came to me. Little, nerdy me. I, of course, was thrilled to be seen on stage doing something with the “cool” girls, but guess what? Last minute they found another “popular” girl who was willing to be Sporty and replaced me with her. No hard feelings though… really.

In Elementary School: Even though the Spice Girls had already started their lengthy breakup by the time I hit the 8th grade, that didn’t stop me and a group of friends from doing a lip-syncing rendition of “Wannabe” at the senior trip talent show. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much room for my back handspring (a gymnastics stunt) as I thought I did and accidentally kicked another girl. Good thing that other girl didn’t sue, because this Sporty Spice was not a platinum rich girl.

And the story of all Spice Girl stories: During a vacation from elementary school, I went with a friend and her family to the Bronx Zoo. At one point we separated from the rest of the family to go off on our own. We ended up sitting on a rock in the shade, off the side of a road in the zoo, singing along to the Spice Girls (I had a walkman that would play out loud like a weak boombox if the headphones were unplugged). Shortly after we got to that rock, an ice cream vendor set up her stall right next to us in what I suppose was her regular spot. We, being overly hyper teenyboppers, asked her if she liked the Spice Girls. Her response: “The Spice who?” We told her not to worry and that we’d provide a free concert to attract customers. Evidently we sucked. She asked us to please move.

Oh, and to answer your question, yes, I still know all the words to “Wannabe” (as well as some other songs).


Scary Movie

*Spoiler Alert! If you have not seen the movie “The Ring” and are so self-hating that you want to see it, just know this post gives away some plot stuff that happens late in the film. Also, if you have not yet seen the film and are hoping to and are not self-hating, you probably won’t want to watch the film after you ready this post.

Welcome to Israel. We have 2 seasons, and often times the weather can’t decide which one it wants to be.

I am going to predict that roughly 62% of this blog’s readers are either sick, have been sick in the past 2 weeks, will be sick in the next 2 weeks, or are suffering from runny nose, congestion and/or cough but are refusing to admit that they are sick. Why? Because it has happened to me every year since coming to this country that I get sick at the turn of the season. Why? Because the seasons don’t change gracefully. Let me illustrate this point: Rampaging brush fire in the Carmel forest 3 weeks ago caused by excessive heat, followed by the biggest rain and wind storm in Israel’s history (or so said JPost), followed by another couple of weeks of sun (and snow in NY), and guess what?! Next week is supposed to be cold and rainy again! Bottom line: crazy weather fluctuations = people get sick. So in honor of all you sick people out there, I’m going to tell you a story of a time, many years ago, back when I was a senior in high school, when I was sick. (Oh, and if you’ve been ever so eagerly waiting for a promised story of paranoia due to an overly dramatic mind, as promised in The Case of the Missing First Post, this is it.)

I don’t like horror movies. I’ve never liked horror movies. When I rented the VHS of the Buffy movie (before the TV show, which oddly enough I liked), I had to stop the film 5 minutes in because a movie still on the back of the movie case gave away that a vampire was going to jump Buffy on the way home from her cheer-leading thing and the nervous suspense was driving me to a paranoid frenzy. Also, when I tried to watch Silence of the Lambs, I had to stop about 10 minutes in because I was expecting Hannibal Lecter to jump out at any minute and bite Jodie Foster‘s head off. And yet, when I was at home, sick, in the winter of 12th grade, I decided that it was as good a time as any to see a horror movie. (I think my brain was congested with phlegm and I was therefore not thinking clearly.) Anyway, my Dad took me to the video store and we rented… The Ring. For those of you unfamiliar with this film, the rest of this post will seem little more than the ramblings of a crazy, paranoid person, albeit amusing. I guarantee greater amusement for those of you who remember more details of the film. The rest of this post is dedicated to why I was convinced I was going to die a week after I saw this movie.

(Ok, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, here’s a quick outline: People see an unlabeled short film, after which they get a phone call that they have a week to live, and during that week there are all sorts of things signaling that they’re going to die, and when the week is up, a creepy, long black haired girl who was found in a well comes out of the TV screen and scares the poor, suspecting victim, to death. The end.)

So as I said, I saw this movie with my Dad and was scared $#%^less. When the credits were rolling at the end, we got a phone call. I froze. My Dad went to answer the phone. I freaked, yelled at him to stop, and when he didn’t, I played the hero, ran past him and answered the phone with a very dramatic, “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM MY LIFE?!”

It was my grandmother.

And thus the paranoia began. Over the next 6 days I kept seeing things that reminded me of that horrible film. Here are some of those things:

  • After cleaning out the shower drain of all hair and gunk, it was inexplicably immediately full of lots of dark hair again. (Eh? eh? Samara in the well?)
  • Puddle of water in the hall outside my bedroom, not near any faucets or anything else that could explain it. And I’m pretty sure the dog didn’t pee there. (Random puddles of water…)
  • Screw sticking out of the wall with the sharp, pointy end at me. (In the video there’s a screw that pushes a fingernail off the finger.)
  • I went to a friend’s house to study for an AP exam. It was a very pretty, nicely furnished home, with plush carpets on the floors and sifrei kodesh lining the walls… and an ugly construction ladder sitting, for no seeming purpose, in the midst of it all. (The construction ladder in the video…)
  • I got 3 nosebleeds that week. (Yes, nosebleed are a sign in the film as well.)
  • A fly was hovering in front of my face for about 30 seconds – something that flies don’t do. (The fly that she plucked out of the TV screen…)
  • As I was channel surfing one evening, I ended up watching the preview for the next episode of Smallville, featuring a field full of dead horses. (Dead horses, crazy horse jumping off of boat only to get chopped up in the boat’s propeller…) (Ok, here’s the deal. I remember it being Smallville and dead horses, but I can find no record of an episode it like that aired at that time. It may have been a different TV show, or a rerun of an episode from season 1 of Smallville featuring dead cows, not horses.)
  • A girl in my class developed some pictures she had taken earlier. In one group picture I was the only one whose face was blurred and out of focus. (In photos taken of characters who are going to die, their faces are blurred.)

Ok, enough of that list. You get the point. A week later, when I was no longer sick, I went to school in the morning fully expecting to be dead by that night at the hand of some scary girl coming out of my TV or computer screen. Before davening started, a girl in my class (who had no idea that I had seen this movie or that I was expecting to die) ran over to me all hysterical and told me that she had a horrible nightmare the night before in which I died. At that point I accepted my dreadful fate and spent the rest of the day as an empty shell of a human being. According to my calculations, exactly 7 days, down to the minute, from the time the movie ended, I was supposed to die during drama club rehearsals. That would have been fine with me – to die surround by friends – except drama club was canceled that day, meaning that I’d be home, alone, when that unlucky hour would strike. But silly me did not take traffic into account. At the precise moment that I was supposed to die, I was on the George Washington Bridge in a school bus with a creepy, yet harmless bus driver, some friends, and some… acquaintances. Miracle of miracles, I survived the night, and the next night, and all the nights between then and now. Phew. (Although in a later post I’ll tell about the time that movie came back to haunt me.) And that was the last time I ever saw a horror movie. Now when I’m sick, I read Harry Potter.

Lost in Translation

Seven  is a special number in Judaism: There are seven days in a week (with the seventh day being extra special), every seven years is a shmita year in Israel, and, of course, this is my seventh year as an Israeli. Ok, modifying that last one: seventh year in the country, fifth year as an Israeli. All the same… seven years! And I still can’t speak the language! Ok, I’m exaggerating. I speak Hebrew fine, especially after 4 years in an Israeli college and a lengthy seminar paper written entirely in Hebrew (on a keyboard with no Hebrew letter stickers, mind you). But my Hebrew is still littered with mistakes, albeit fewer than seven years ago and certainly not as egregious. (I won’t go into my decreasing ability to speak clearly in English in this post, but feel free to take a look at this blog’s disclaimer on the upper right hand side of this page.) This post is dedicated to some funny moments I’ve had with the Hebrew language since coming to this country.

Year 1: This story is actually something I’m proud of. My first year in Israel I learned in Midreshet Harova in the Old City of Jerusalem. One evening, an Israeli co-counselor of mine from camp called me to say that he was passing through the Jewish Quarter and wanted to stop by quickly to say hi. (Now on an important side note, I had a policy that when speaking to Israelis I had to speak in Hebrew no matter how badly I spoke it, primarily so I could learn from my mistakes, but also to break in/get more comfortable with the Hebrew language.) (An additional important side note: Since I stepped foot in Israel at the start of my first year I’ve been trying to speak Hebrew with an Israeli accent. Although I wasn’t horrible at the start, let’s just say my accent has improved loads over the years.) So anyway, I went to visit my co-counselor who was there with another Israeli friend of his. We spoke for about five minutes (in Hebrew), towards the end of which I got to a point where I simply didn’t know how to say something in Hebrew, so I switched to English for a few words and then continued speaking in Hebrew. My friend’s friend’s jaw dropped and he asked me (in Hebrew) how I know English so well. (The implication being that I was speaking Hebrew so well he thought I was a born and bred Israeli.) Grinning inside, I simply shrugged and told him (in Hebrew) that my mother is American. Let him he think what he wants to about me 😉

Year 2: I actually spent 2 years in Midreshet Harova. In my second year, one time when I went to do my laundry, I accidentally dropped a sock behind the washing machine and could not reach it. Fortunately, the seminary’s security shared a room with the washing machine. I turned to the Israeli security guard on duty at the time and asked him in Hebrew if he knew where I could find a stick (the idea being that I’d use the stick to reach my sock). Unfortunately for me, most of the Hebrew I knew at the time was biblical Hebrew and not spoken Hebrew. I said to the guard, “Slicha, yesh lecha mateh?” (“Excuse me, do you have a stick?”) He responded with a quizzical look, “Matateh?” (“A broom?”) Not knowing that a matateh is a broom, I responded, “Lo, mateh.” (“No, a stick.) At this point the conversation began to play in a loop: “Mateh.” “Matateh?” “Mateh.” “Matateh?” Until I finally asked the guard what a “matateh” is. He acted out sweeping. I realized that “matateh” is a broom and told him that that would work too. Then he asked me what a “mateh” is. I responded, “Mateh… ata yode’a… kmo hamateh shel Moshe.” (“A stick… you know… like Moshe’s stick.”) And this is how I learned something very valuable: “mateh” = a staff, “makel” = a stick. Thank you American Jewish education system for only teaching me biblical Hebrew.

Year 3: What a year. My first year in an all-Israeli environment. In fact, I was the only American immigrant in my college class. The first week of school I found myself in Psych 101. (Something you should know about me: I don’t even understand the subject in English, kal v’chomer in Hebrew!) About 15 minutes in to the first lesson I realized that I was completely lost and I wanted to ask the girl sitting next to me for help. But how to do that? How does one say “I am lost, help me” in Hebrew? Luckily for me, the Lost-and-Found in my elementary school was called “hashavat aveida” (lit. returning the lost object). Taking the root of the word “aveida” (being alef, bet, dalet) and applying my knowledge of Hebrew grammar (that any reflexive verb should be binyan Hitpa’el), I figured out how to say it. I turned to the girl sitting next to me and said, “Slicha, at yechola la’azor li? Hitabadeti.” Unfortunately for me, Hebrew grammar doesn’t always follow the rules. The entire psychology class fell silent and everyone stared at me. Why? Because little known to me I had just said, “Excuse me, can you help me? I committed suicide.” (Note for future users: the correct way to say “I got lost” is “halachti l’ibud.”

Year 4: This is a moment I am actually very proud of. In order to receive a degree in education in Israel, one must first complete two years of Hebrew Language courses. I was sure I’d fail, especially since all of my classmates were born and bred Israelis. In reality, I got the highest grade in my class. Why? Simple. The exam asked us to apply a bunch of grammatical rules we had learned over the course of the year to various words and texts given to us. When you are less familiar with the language and aren’t caught up in what seems right based on conversational Hebrew, it’s a lot easier to simply apply the rules as the teacher taught us to. Like math equations. Fun stuff.

Year 5: By my 5th year in Israel, my Israeli accent had developed to the point where my classmates told me that I sound like an Israeli who grew up in an English speaking household. Not bad! Except in certain scenarios, such as this. I was in the supermarket and wanted to buy sour cream, except I didn’t know how to say it in Hebrew. So I went over to one of the supermarket attendants and in flawless Hebrew described what I was looking for using every method of description except for the word itself (which I did not know). (Silly me – all I had to do was put the words for sour and cream together: shamenet chamutza.) The attendant looked at me like I was a crazy woman, speaking Hebrew flawlessly, like an Israeli, and yet not knowing the word for something as basic as sour cream. He probably thought I spent my life living in a cave eating wild mushrooms and drinking water out of a stream. The next time I found myself in the supermarket in a similar predicament, I made sure to speak in Hebrew with the most American accent I could muster.

Year 6: Because I can’t think of anything funny that happened in my 6th year, I’ll tell another story from my 3rd year. After class, one night a week, I went to a local Israeli seminary to attend a weekly shiur given by a well known and respected Israeli rabbi. Towards the middle of the year, the rabbi went to America on a recruiting mission for his yeshiva. A few weeks later I ran into him in the supermarket. He recognized me from his shiur and even though I was taken by surprise (yes, even though he’s a big rabbi, he’s not above doing the family’s shopping) I felt the need to say something. Wanting to comment on his return from his trip to America, I said, “Brucha hashava,” which is “welcome back” for a female. Oops. And I didn’t even realize until after I left why he gave me a strange look. I spent the rest of his lessons hiding in the back row.

Year 7: The year is still young, my friends. The year is still young.

Now for some comic entertainment (in case this post wasn’t amusing enough), here’s an awesome sketch by Jerusalem improv group HaHafuch poking fun at Anglo immigrants.

Goosebumps: Choose Your Own Adventure

Well, it’s officially that time of the year again. The boots are out, the sad excuse for a winter coat is out, as are an interesting assortment of winter gloves and scarves. Unfortunately winter hats don’t like to fit over my mitpachat (AKA: tichel, shmata, head scarf), so instead I have my husband’s earmuffs. Yet still, the most classic way to determine if it is indeed that time of the year again is by how late I stay in my warm bed in the morning to procrastinate getting out from under my covers into the cold room. So, this post is dedicated to my favorite piece of furniture (my bed) and that wonderful activity that takes place there… dreaming!

I’ve had many a strange dream in my life and as I remember many of them, I can guarantee you that there will most definitely be more posts of this nature (enough for me to create a “Dreams” category). But what makes this particular dream worth posting about? Simple. It was a choose-your-own-adventure dream. How often does that happen?! Anyway, if I recall correctly, I dreamed part one of this dream in elementary school, somewhere around 5th-6th grade. Part two was dreamed a year or two later.

Part One:

The dream opens where I am running across a series of rooftops that look an awful lot like like the ancient Pueblo mud houses, similar to an early scene in “Aladdin” where he’s jumping from rooftop to rooftop to avoid being caught. In the case of my dream, however, I am not alone. I am traveling with my clan of about 20 nomads, and jumping from rooftop to rooftop is our mode of transportation. Anyway, we reach the edge of one building, stopping short as there is a large gap between there and the next building, too large to easily jump. But jump we must. Getting a running head start we all leap over the edge in slow motion, but the far rooftop is just that – a far rooftop. Now this far rooftop must have belonged to a nice Jewish family, because they had a brick wall around the roof. Mind you, not a very sturdy one though, because as we are all falling somewhat short in our leap of extraordinary proportions, we grab hold of the brick wall and dangle there on the side of the building for a few seconds before the wall crumbles and we all fall to the ground. I guess the leap wasn’t so extraordinary after all, because we only fell a few feet to the soft, dirt ground with no cries of pain more dramatic than a loud “Oof!” At any rate, we land at the entrance to a cave. With a lit torch (that came from where?) we enter the cave in an orderly manner. As one of the youngest clan members, I found myself somewhere in the middle of the line, protected on all sides. Except something feels wrong. As we move further into the cave I realize that something is picking off the stragglers from the back. Don’t ask me how, but I knew that the something was a minotaur – yes, from Greek mythology (most likely inspired by 5th of the “Hercules” telemovies that served as precursors to the “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” series, “Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur“). After slowly picking off those poor souls behind me, the minotaur begins to attack from the front. After the first man in line (presumably the clan leader) lets out a blood-curdling scream and drops the torch that immediately extinguishes upon contact with the dirt, the minotaur lets out a roar and all panic ensues. In each-man-for-himself style, we all run for the cave entrance, but with the minotaur behind us once again, we have no chance of making it. Alone, I ran towards the light coming in from the mouth of the cave. Of course, before I reach it I trip over a random tree root sticking up from the dirt, and fall to the ground with a louder “Oof!” than before. With my eyesight somewhat hazy, yet still seeing the light of the cave’s exit, a shadow falls over me and I feel the minotaur’s dank breath on the back of my neck. Naturally, before I could be devoured, I wake up. (As the film “Inception” so accurately(?) describes how one is not capable of dying in a dream. One simply wakes up.)

Part Two:

The dream opens the same way: jumping from rooftop to rooftop, leaping, grabbing the brick wall and falling to the ground at the entrance to a cave. This time, however, I know that there’s a minotaur in the cave and that if we enter we’ll all be devoured. I tell the other clan members, but they don’t take me seriously and enter the cave anyway. I stay outside, and sure enough a few minutes later I hear their screams and cries as one by one they are eaten. All alone and not knowing what to do, I start wandering down a narrow dirt path that starts right next to the cave. Time passes and I find the path cuts through a field with long grass. A ways off I see a person and call out. The person turns out to be a blond haired, young girl about my age who is carrying a yoke with buckets of water over her shoulders (like such). She offers me water and I tell her my story. Upon realizing that I’m all alone now, she invites me to return with her to her village. We get to her village (which kind of resembles Camp Moshava IO) and she shows me to her “bunk.” Her “bunk” has 3 steps leading up to the front door, which opens directly to a small and narrow room that is entirely occupied by a bunk bed with no space between it and the wall. She offers me the top bunk and I clamber up using the lower bed as a stepping stone. The next morning she takes me to their social hall where they promptly start davening. I don’t have a siddur on me, so the girl directs me to a table in the back with siddurim strewn across it. I try to find a Shilo siddur, as this was the only kind I was familiar with back in elementary school, but all I can find is a Shilo bencher (that doesn’t exist in the real world, to the best of my knowledge). After davening we sit down at round tables and breakfast is served to us. While we eat, a screen on one side of the room is lowered and we watch a film. The film is about an evil shape-shifter. Before I know it, the round table I am at is a round table at the cafe where the film’s protagonist (who looks like Neve Campbell) is also sitting at a nearby table reading a newspaper. All of a sudden the cafe’s front door blows open and the shape-shifter spins in like a tornado, Tazmanian Devil style, and with a cackle says, “You should be careful when there are sharp objects around.” Without warning, all the silverware on the tables and at the bar float up into the air and start flying at the protagonist. The shape-shifter cackles again and whirlwinds out the door leaving the cafe a total wreck. I peek over at where the protagonist was sitting, but she fell to the floor in the attack. Then, one bloody hand after the other, she pulls herself up to the table and we see that she is all cut up and bloody. The end.

My lesson was learned. I dreamed this dream no more, as this was a dream for which I no longer wanted to choose adventures, since they all end so horribly. But the real scare didn’t come until a few years later. I was channel surfing on TV and happened upon a preview for a film with a scene involving knives sent flying through the air by the bad guy. I quickly changed the channel, and to this day do not know which movie that was, although I have tried to find out. Someone told me that the original 1976 “Carrie” film had a scene that fits that description, but why would a film made in 1976 be previewing around the turn of the millennium? (By the way, the 2002 “Carrie” remake doesn’t have that scene, so it couldn’t have been that preview.) Anyone have any other suggestions?

I was once told that when you think up an idea, it’s then permanently out there in the world for the taking – that’s why many inventions are thought of around the same time all across the world (take the Rema and Rav Yosef Caro, for example). I’m not sure I really believe it, but at any rate it’s too bad I didn’t copyright my dream at the time. I could be rich now off of a horror film that I will never see.

PS. If the theory in the last paragraph is indeed true, then I am truly sorry for releasing these horrors into the world. My bad.

The Case of the Missing First Post

As a recent addition to the blogosphere, I seem to have missed the memo that I was supposed to use my first ever post to talk about myself and my blog. I was under the impression that it was the purpose of the About page to provide all this information, but given the very few number of people who have viewed my About page (thank you WordPress stats!) and the larger number of people asking me why I started a blog and what the significance of the blog’s name is, I decided to indulge all you lazy people who don’t seem to be able to lift your finger and click the About page link and make my second post the missing first post. (Remember when “lazy” used to refer to people who sat on their butts all day? ::sigh::) (Although I did not receive a memo about it being a bad idea to insult my readers, I do hope that no one was offended by being called “lazy.”)

For the shortened version, go to the About page.

Still reading? You must want the long of it. Well, here goes.

Growing up as the youngest of 3 and the only girl meant that I got a ton of attention. But as is the case with many youngest children, it was not enough. My mom (Shout out to you for being the first person ever to comment on my blog!), having been at the receiving end of my attempts for attention most of my life, liked to kindly point out when I would start aimlessly talking about nothing in particular for no apparent reason other than to have people listen to me. (Yes, I seem to have started many stories with, “And I was walking and walking and walking, and talking and talking and talking.”) In high school it became quite common for me to begin a story, only to get interrupted no less than 5 times before I could get to the punch line. My high school classmates coined the term “YCS,” Youngest Child Syndrome, to refer to any youngest child who craved attention at any cost. Needless to say I was one of them. Ok, so I rambled a lot, but the stories were fun! People still remember them! (Although that could be because I would tell them over and over again.)

So, for those of you who haven’t yet put one and one together (there I go insulting y’all again), this is why I started a blog: It’s a place for me to talk and talk and talk where people have no choice but to listen (or not, but if you’re  reading this then you are clearly listening) and occasionally add their own two agurot, but never interrupting me. Yes, I like being the center of attention, I like talking and I like telling stories. Primarily stories about me. Because I am fascinating. It sounds egotistical, but I like to think of it as a somewhat over-healthy self-esteem issue. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I mean, I don’t think I’m greater than other people. I find other people fascinating too. But as one of many fascinating people, it is my obligation to put myself out there and have my stories heard.

This leads me now to the name of my blog: I Live in a Movie. Since coming to Israel I have been told one thing over and over again in response to my stories: “את חיה בסרט” – “at chaya b’seret” – Google translate “The animal movie” – actual, literal translation “You live in a movie” – meaning “That story is out-of-this-world crazy!” Maybe I’m a magnet for weird things. Maybe it’s my love for movies and my desire to have an action/adventure filled life that gives me a more dramatic outlook on the world. I sometimes feel like I’m looking out at the world through a TV set. Imagine what it must be like for Jack Bauer to walk down the street… He must be expecting danger at every turn by now! I like to think that if I look at life as a mishkabobble of film and TV characters would, I’d live a much more entertaining and dramatic life (and maybe a bit more paranoid too… but that’s a story for a later post). So this blog is really just a place for you share in my exciting point of view on the world, read “out-of-this-world crazy” stories… or at least entertaining stories, and probably an occasional deeply moving story, some random worldly knowledge, and maybe even a philosophical something, however unlikely. This blog’s got it all. As Grandpa once said, “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” So, if you’re looking for a fun and entertaining read, this is the blog for you!

Miracle on Hayehudim Street

Many of you (“you” = people who are reading this blog. If no one reads it then “you” has no significance and then it’s just bad English. See disclaimer.) have grown up outside of Israel – in fact, some of you (see previous parenthetical comment) probably still live there – and are familiar with the effect Christmas season has on the non-Jewish world, namely people becoming nice – the “Christmas spirit” takes over. People start volunteering at soup kitchens, or visiting hospitals and old age homes. Carolers go around door to door singing (or is that just in movies?). (Speaking of movies…) And of course there is the annual Christmas takeover of television where feel-good movies such as “Miracle on 34th Street,” “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” are played in endless loops on all TV channels.

What I have to say to all this is… What about Chanukah?! After all, isn’t Chanukah the holiday of miracles?!

And then I recalled something that happened to me on Chanukah 6 years ago. At the time I was living in the Old City of Jerusalem, studying in Midreshet Harova. The Chanukah season really did feel magical to me. After all, it is the holiday of light in the darkest of all seasons. Certainly that seems hopeful. Well, on the 6th day of Chanukah as I walked down the stairs above the Cardo from Rechov Chabbad to Rechov Hayehudim, a group of nuns passed in front of me. One nun, upon seeing me, held back from the rest of the group and asked me, “Excuse me, but could you please tell me when Hanukkah is? My mother is Jewish and likes it when I call her to wish her a happy holiday.” Ummm… what was that? Your mother is Jewish? And you’re a nun?! I wanted to say something to her – to tell her that according to Judaism if her mother’s Jewish then so is she – but I had a brain fart and simply said “Yeah, Chanukah is now. Today is the 6th day of the 8 day holiday. Happy Chanukah.”

Katamon, Jerusalem

And that’s when I realized… Chanukah isn’t a time of hope. It’s a time of desperation. All those years ago we fought a desperate battle of few against many. I don’t think the Maccabees ran into battle hopeful that they could win. I think it was a desperate last attempt for autonomy. Luckily they won. Nowadays we are fighting the same battle, only it has since moved from the battlefield to our hearts. Assimilation has penetrated all of us to some degree (some more than others). Chanukah reminds us that we can’t just sit back and wait for a miracle. We have to go out there and fight to have that miracle happen. I really regret not telling that nun that she’s Jewish. I just hope that her designated Jew/Chanukah alarm clock the next year had the dignity to not brain fart on the spot.

Maybe that’s why there aren’t any feel-good, warm and fuzzy Chanukah movies.