Saturday, December 26, 2009

Genesis Vayigash Verses 44:18 - 47:27

This week’s portion is the continuation of Joseph’s story in Egypt. After two years of famine, Joseph’s brothers must come to Egypt for food. Egypt is prosperous because Joseph can interpret the pharaoh’s dream. Joseph reveals he is their brother and the secret reaches the throne of pharaoh. The king of Egypt immediately accepts the brothers and sends them back to retrieve Jacob so that the relatives of trusted Joseph no longer suffer. I find this important because not every pharaoh was as mean as Raamses II. The Israelites have moved to the land of Egypt.
My cousin Emma comes to the Torah this Shabbat for the first time to become a Bat Mitzvah. Bat Mitzvah translates daughter of the commandment. Emma lives in the suburbs of Washington DC. She has gone from New York, and California Emma definitely reminds me of Joseph. Her moving is not the only thing that resembles the hero of Egypt.
Emma is an activist for everything. She cannot read dreams like Joseph, but she definitely is a dreamer! Just like Joseph, she is brave and wise. Whether it is women or animal rights she sticks up for it. I wish my cousin the best of luck this weekend. Just like Joseph, (and Emma) be a hero, follow your dreams.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Happy Hanukah! Last month, I showed how Veterans Day, an American holiday, relates to Judaism. This week instead of the parshat like I usually do, I will demonstrate the opposite of last month's entry.

How does Hanukah relate to American culture and society?(Note I will use some Jewish words that some people may not understand. Advice: Look 'em up!:))

First of all, Hanukah is not a major Jewish holiday. It is probably if not the least important, close. This does not mean Hanukah is bad though.

Hanukah is unfortunately all of Judaism to some American Jews. I do not know what it is, but we tend to forget about the colorful world of Judaism that we live in. From Tu'bshvat to Tefilin there is a lot there. My guess is most people are in the Hanukah mood during December because everyone else is full of pre-winter holidays/post-Thanksgiving cheer. Purim is usually in March and Passover is usually in April. Those are my two favorites, few people could explain them.

Is it the gift giving? When my mom and dad asked, "What do you want for Hanukah?" I orignally replied with absolutley nothing. It is an American tradition to give gifts on Hanukah. People used to only exchange gelt. Believe it or not Christanity represents 76.5% ( this country. That is a lot of people. That means Christmas is widely celebrated.

According to American Christmas Origins,(, Christmas gift giving dates back to the 1200's! It happened during the time of thirteen colonies too to demonstrate class differences. Then in the 1820's, New Yorkers borrowed the traditions from the Dutch in town and the rest is history.

When I said "Nothing," to my parents, I had another thought later. Why not give gifts on Hanukah? It celebrates one of the greatest miracles a Jew or anyone can have. Religious freedom. For centuries, Jews have been picked on by everyone from Canadaians to Chinese. Even in our country, I see frequently demonstrated. During the time of Hanukah, a little, little army fought the huge kingdom of Greece's army.

Judah Maccabee and his brothers were the leaders. They fought because Greece was destroying every retrospect of Judaism. Jews could not bare to see their temples being trashed and their Torahs destroyed. Judah and the other Maccabees stood up for their religous freedom and won.

So why not dance and sing and celebrate like an American after the revolutionary war? Why not give a tiny gift for a bright path in a dark, dark tunnel of anti-Semitism? That victory keeps me going when anti-Semitism is shoved in my face at school or in other parts of my life. Most people would say. "Seventh graders?"

And I go, "Yes!" I decided if I was given a gift for Hanukah I would accept it in an "American" way.