Monday, December 7, 2015

12.07.15 Happy Hanukkah!

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah, and frankly, because we don't have any of the kids around for the holiday it was pretty low key.  Honestly, in the hierarchy of Jewish holidays, it's a minor one, but I still miss watching my children open presents. Yes, there was a miracle, and the oil lamp in the restored Temple burned for eight days. However the transformation of Hanukkah into a widely celebrated event with gifts is more about modernity - and the assimilation of Jews into American society beginning in the late 19th century - than it is about the events of biblical times.

Photo credit: Harry & David
Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, the Jewish holidays move around.  This year, Hanukkah is too early for any of the kids to be home from school - so all their gifts have been shipped - including the obligatory Harry & David "eight nights" boxes.  A couple years ago, in 2013, it was so early that it started in November - on Thanksgiving - and merchandisers had all kinds of fun with that. This year, it's just the week before exams.

Nonetheless, its appearance on the calendar provides and excellent opportunity for me to write about some of the Judaic treasures in my jewelry collection. Like much of my jewelry, there are items from two of the most important women in my life - my mother and grandmother - and includes two very traditional round Star of David pendants.

The older of the two is silver with the Hebrew word "Tzion", or Zion,  in the center with blue enamel accents.  My grandmother wore this for years before she gave it to me when I was about 12 years old.

My mother had an almost identical one - except that it is gold with silver tablets (the Ten Commandments) in the center.  I wear them both often, especially on a day when I feel like a I need a little extra something to get me through.

I also have a couple of my own.  One is the simplest of gold stars - a souvenir from the summer of 1980, when we went to Israel as a family.  I've worn it alone on a gold chain, with a small gold "D", and these days I wear it in a charm jumble, with a mezzuzah that also belonged to my grandmother, Gertrude.

The other is a more contemporary gold star that I acquired recently from Jewelry by Cari.  I wear it on a jumble, too - with my other Cari charms.

Finally, I have a favorite that I bought for myself many years ago - it is a pin with the Four Matriarchs - Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.  I love the bright colors and I wear it when I feel the need for strength - reminding myself (and others) that the foundations of a just society are built as much by the women of the community as by the men.

In this busy holiday season, as we plan events, cook meals, wrap gifts, and take care of others - my pin serves as a reminder to me (and then I remind my friends) - that it is important to slow down periodically, and take a little time for ourselves. I'm sure you have this kind of strong women in your life, too, so reach out and let them know they are special (perhaps with a piece of jewelry?).

Wishing all my readers a warm and happy holiday season.

Until next time.

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