|A Novel Idea Bookstore, Lincoln, NE || 2011|
Eight years ago, the first night of Chanukah fell on December 20; it was a Saturday. At that time, I wrote a lot about my dislike for Christmas and how it made me feel, and I kvelled about probably the first "Jewish" gift ever given to me, by my friend Melanie. It was a musical dreidel. I was a sophomore in college in Lincoln, Nebraska, and I knew I would be Jewish.
Seven years ago, the first night of Chanukah fell on December 7. By that point, I was a Jewish knowledge and observance machine. On December 6, I hopped on a city bus and schlepped over to a Walgreens near the Reform synagogue in order to buy my first menorah. It was a huge, important, ridiculous event for me. The next day, on the first day of Chanukah, I wrote:
Happy Hanukkah everyone! I bought my menorah, lit my candles, said my blessings, and then made some cookies that are shaped like driedels, megandavids, Judah Maccabee, shields, etc. Then I iced them, sprinkled them with blue and yellow sprinkles and brought them down to work. They were literally gone in about 5 minutes. Everyone crowded around them ... it was an amusing sight. Interestingly enough, though, I recieved an e-mail from DAN, the PRES of HILLEL, at 5:45 (though I didn't get it till tihs evening) that they will be lighting a menorah in the J.D. Edwards Kaufman building (where just about every Jew on campus lives ... the "super honors program") each night of Hanukkah. ... Although I don't have the blessing memorized ... mrr. They know I'm a Jew-in-training anyhow. Heh. Did I mention that my Jews in the Modern World prof (Alan Steinweis) played the VIDLIT Yiddish lesson in class today. Oh man ... it was hilarious. I think I enjoyed it more than the rest of the class. Then again, I have a passion for the Yiddish.
On December 9, 2004, I wrote:
Tonight, after lighting candles with Dan, Cliff and Sari in Kauffman hall ... I definately felt a part of something there with them. Lonely Jews in Nebraska, ha. But Dan sang the blessing beautifully ... Sari lit the candles, and Cliff and I stared on. It was good times.
Shortly thereafter I started working on a paper on why I want to be Jewish for the then-rabbi of the synagogue who subsequently left. I waited another nine months for another rabbi to work with me, and by then I'd mastered so much. I converted Reform in April 2006 and in December 2006 I was in Washington D.C. for Chanukah; I made this video and wrote a lot of blog posts.