Monday, December 22, 2008

Chanukah at Ibrahim's

It's the Festival of Lights time of year – when Israelis overdo the sufganiyot (Chanukah donuts) thing. I had one so far. I'm trying not to overindulge in the deep fried, transfat fest. But what I'm having a hard time doing is juggling all the fun stuff going on this week with the empty nest at home. The first night of Chanukah saw many people rushing home early or at least on time to be with their children to light the first candle of the holiday. Moi? No one was home except for Hubby. The youngest kid was working and my youngest daughter was at the married daughter's house eating those damn sufganiyot and then having the nerve to ask me if I'm bringing more home. NO! I'M NOT! There.

But what I did do was do things a bit different this year. I decided to do funky, unusual Chanukah celebrations, of which there are many this year. Tonight my friend Ibrahim on the Mt. of Olives was hosting a Chanukah party, Winter Solstice celebration, Christmas celebration and end of Eid. How many chances do Jews get to go to their Arab friends' homes to light Chanukah menorahs. Not many. I decided this was it.

I got a ride to Ibrahim's with an African-American Sikh teacher/musician SiriOm Singh and his Israeli wife. I'm sure the Arab cab driver had a tough time figuring out SiriOm with his white turban and white robe. Jewish? Moslem? Indian? Tribal African? We kept him guessing.

Ibrahim's wife had cooked for about 100 people – rice, majjadrah, various cooked vegetables and salads. But we were only about 15 in his cozy living room. Ibrahim told us some funny stories about meeting Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach for the first time in New York City. The Rabbi looked at Ibrahim walking towards him and started breathing in deeply. Ibrahim looks at him strangely. The Rabbi explains "I can always tell when someone is coming from the Holy Land". And he embraced Ibrahim and they became friends.

Another story was they were catching a flight from somewhere in the U.S. to Toronto. Ibrahim and his travel companion, David, both fall asleep in the airport terminal. They wake up and no one is at the gate!! They missed their flight apparently. They are told to wait at another gate standby for another flight soon to leave to Toronto. But then are told that the original plan is coming back for them. Ibrahim was wearing his traditional Arab robes and headdress. He believes they must have mistaken him for some oil sheikh, as the flight attendants were like "who are you? In 13 years of flying, we've never brought a plane back to the gate." He tells the attendants laughing, "who am I? I am a man with no country and no passport. I am NOTHING!" and he bellows out laughing as he tells the story.

Eliyahu came afterwards to light the menorah and tell the story of Chankuah. There were two Chinese and Japanese women there, who didn't know the story.

We went around the room sharing what we all wish for, and chanted and sang along with SiriOm, by the light of the two Chanukah candles which seemed to warm us all up miraculously.


rabbi lars shalom said...

the first candlesticks for channukah came from the holy fingers of god into Israel, "and they doth find my hand in gold, for I have given Yishrael my soul, and this represents my soul, light it in woe and we will have woe, so, light it in hope...."

rabbi lars said...

yes, i mean the holders, menorah