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I hope everyone is breaking out the latkes, menorahs, and love combined with light.

I'm using this time to reflect on the good things this year, and to pray for peace in the coming year. If anyone has any special things they're doing this to make it a joyful Challah-day (HAD to get that pun in there! :-P) feel free to share on this post.

I was reflecting earlier today to my husband that I have had the beautiful gold menorah in our living room for over 10 years. I got it when I was in high school! He asked me why on earth I had a menorah when I have only seriously been exploring Judaism for 2 years? I said...just because my feet didn't hit the synagogue previous to those 2 years, doesn't mean my heart wasn't waiting for me there all along!
When we were at my Grandmother's wake and funeral this weekend (a very long, sad entry for my personal journal some other time...thank you for those of you who knew though, and offered lovely Hebrew prayers to me in my time of need. I don't know who it was that was doing that in my personal journal, but it meant more to me than you'll ever know).
The family got together to say goodbye to this amazing (Irish Catholic) woman in the Jersey towns of Paramus, Fair Lawn, and Glen Rock. I spent the bulk of my childhood and adolescence in these towns, as had all of my 4 aunts, my mother, and my maternal grandparents. That's why the wake and funeral were held there. Anyway, the point of all this is...on our way to the funeral home, we drove by my old Nursery School, which was at Temple Beth Sholom! Yes, that's right: I went to Hebrew School as a child. And my mother is paganesque :) She felt it would be a better education for me. Bergen County, NJ in general always had a big Jewish population. It was mostly Orthodox when my mom was a kid, but there's still a ton of Jewish community centers, and shuls of all branches down there even today. And according to my entire Irish Catholic Family "The BEST BAGELS IN THE WORLD!".
It was an interesting experience being back where my Jewish roots apparently took place. I remembered going to the school when I saw the round stained-glass windows and the parking lot there. The sign looked EXACTLY the same. And apparently I taught the folks in my family Hebrew prayers while I was there. So surreal eh? We all have emotional touchstones in our lives that are often in a physical place. My Jewish soul started in Jersey, and it was a testament to fate that we drove by that little school on the way to bury the rest of my childhood along with the most wonderful woman I've ever known.

I've had interesting questions from folks on the blog lately. Some people have asked me whether I've experienced any prejudices from Jewish friends about how "Jewish" I'll be once I officially convert (I have had SOME, not too much). Others have talked about which speakers in class they've gleaned the most from. And some of us have been lamenting the challenges of our beloved Shalom Aleichem book/Hebrew learning in general.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, observations, and stories! We have 8 nights of beautiful flames, chocolate gold, and hearing the Dreidel song 8 thousand times. Let's sprinkle some Jew-dust on this Holiday season, eh?

And I end with a fun video of Adam Sandlers' (1st) Hanukkah Song, because I can never quite get enough of it:

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