Monday, December 22, 2008

Celebrating Chanukah at Harvey's



This is the time of the year for religious celebration. While many celebrate the birth of Christ with the observance of Christmas, there are others in our community of the Jewish faith who celebrate their religious holiday of Chanukah. I am fortunate to have a friend who is of the Jewish faith. He (Harvey) invited me to his home again this year (as he did last year) to help him observe his religious observance along with his other friends.

My friend Wayne and I arrived at Harvey’s home last evening a bit early. Harvey answered his doorbell in jeans and bare chested; fresh out of the shower. We were too early. Oh well, we’re all friends. Later we found out that another couple, Tim and Miles, arrived about an hour earlier than we did. So we weren’t the first. Just goes to show how anxious we were to participate in this annual event.

On this special occasion Harvey prepares his special latkes. Last year was the first time I ate these fried potato, onion and garlic pancakes. They are delicious. This occasion is also treated like a potluck. Everyone brings their own special dish. I made my specialty, tarragon potato salad. Wayne expressed concern with a raised eyebrow that there would be two potato dishes at the occasion. However, that did not appear to be a problem when the guests started to dig in the food arrayed on the table. Miles brought a delicious chicken dish that was tenderized in some kind of sweet marinade that contained many different types of olives. I took some of the leftover home with me and I will have to reconstruct that recipe. I thank you Miles.

The main event of the evening was Harvey lighting the Menorah. Having been raised in the Baptist faith, I am ignorant of Jewish religious ceremonies. Even though one of my good friends (Stuart) when I grew up in Downingtown, Pennsylvania is Jewish (we still remain in contact by e-mail), I never observed any of his Jewish holidays with him. The most I did to acknowledge his holiday was to be careful not to send him a card saying “Merry Christmas.” Stuart was the only Jew in our class. I did notice that his Mother prepared fish (I think lox) for him for breakfast which was far removed from my typical breakfast of scrapple and bacon. I don't know how he observed his holiday back then in the Fifties. I only noticed that he didn't have a Christmas tree which caused me to feel sorry for him. Stuart is a pretty cool guy and he never seemed sad because his home was lacking the usual Christmas decorations. Now I understand why he never seemed sad. He had his own holiday celebration.

Most of us attending last night’s gathering are retired. I think all of us were gay and lesbian but I cannot vouch for that 100%. There may have been one or two bisexual and/or straight folk there last night too. It really didn’t matter. Our group is a diverse group where all are welcome.

This gathering of friends last night at Harvey's home is another reason why I am glad I retired to Delaware. I am part of a community here in the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes/Milton area. While I had many very nice neighbors and friends in Pennsylvania, I was never part of the community.

I thank my friend Harvey for including me in his group to share his holiday. Maybe next year my childhood friend Stuart can leave his warm comfortable home in Ft. Lauderdale and join us.

7 comments:

  1. Ron,

    That odd. I can remember being at Stuarts at Christmas and he got Christmas presents. I can't recall if they had anything like a tree, though. he told me how on Hanukkah there were eight days and they were presents each day. I was thinking why can't we do that too, have eight days of gifts plus Santa on Christmas.

    Sometimes gifts get in the way of the significance of these two celebrations.

    Lar

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  2. jim rossignol8:23 PM

    Ron.

    Thanks for sharing the evening! I definitely feel more knowledgeable about the celebration than I did before. Looks like a great night had by all.

    Hope your holidays are shining bright.

    Jim

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  3. Jim,

    In one of my future blog postings I'll tell the story of the first time I was in a Catholic Church for high mass. I didn't know what those kneeling benches were in front of us. It was my uncle's funeral. We couldn't understand anything the priest was saying (later we found out he was saying it in Latin, this was in 1962.) I am always curious about other rituals and ceremonies. My next stop is a mosque.

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  4. Lar,

    I don't remember anything about Stuart celebrating Christmas. What I do remember is the weird stuff his Mother used to fix him for breakfast. That left an impression on me. I also remember his father's extensive paperback book collection. Another thing I remember about his parents (who impressed me a lot) was that they always seemed to be dressed up. Unlike my father who hung around in a T-shirt. Can you imagine Stuart's father hanging aound in a T-shirt?

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  5. Ron,

    Mr. Meisel was always distinguished looking. No, I never saw him dressed down. I thinking he put on a dressing gown in the evenings. I can remember him in that west front room watching TV, smoking a cigar, a silver mane like Pa cartwright on "Bonanza". He took us into Coateville to his Pharmacy a couple times and Stuart took me over to they Synagog. He wasn't a man of a lot of words as I remember. Stuart's mom was usually fussing about in the kitchen. I have a lot of memories at their home, I wish I had photos, especially since the house is gone.

    Did you send these photos tohim? I told him about you taking them.

    Lar

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  6. Yes, his father was an elegant and distinguished gentleman, very unlike my own father. I also remember his mother fussing about in the kitchen cooking food that our family never ate. I remember how fascinated I was by that fact. Maybe I should have invited their family over to our digs at 120 Washington Avenue for fried chicken and biscuits. How do you think that would have went over?

    Mrs. Meisel (I always addressed her that way, I didn't dare do otherwise) was always dressed "up" to. Very elegant. Now what happened with Stuart, I do not know.

    Yes, I did send Stuart a link to the blog but I haven't heard from him. I think I'll give him a phone call now.

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  7. I called Stuart. No answer. Probably out buying a Christmas.......er...."holiday" tree.

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