I am Jewish, but I have to admit – I don’t exactly know what that really means. I can say I am Jewish because my mother was Jewish, but she did not practice the Jewish faith. My grandmother also did not practice the Jewish faith, so other than a cultural identity, being Jewish has not been a big part of my life.
I have always been interested in my Jewish background. When I was much younger, my grandmother got me a beautiful necklace; it was a gold Star of David with a beautiful lace pattern inside and a small chai on the front. I loved wearing that necklace because it made me feel closer to my grandmother; it reminded me that we both shared this special heritage.
Over the years I have learned more about the Jewish faith, but I still know very little about how people practice it. I don't know the holidays and traditions that most Jewish folks know.
After my mother passed away a few years ago, I decided to get a small tattoo of a chai in remembrance of her. It is my way of keeping her with me. Occasionally someone will see and comment on my tattoo. I am always proud to share that my mother's side of the family was Jewish, but there have been a few awkward moments too, when someone will see my tattoo and assume I have more knowledge about judaism that I really do.
After spending the month of November researching and writing a first draft of a historical novel set between world war one and world war two, I spent even more time learning about the horrors of the Holocaust. My Jewish heritage is closely tied to the Jewish population of Eastern Poland and Western Russia that was persecuted and killed by the Nazi’s. I can’t help but wonder how my great grandmother’s family was affected by that horrible period in history.
I'm not sure if it was the book research, or just missing my mom, but I did something different this year, I bought a small menorah. I know almost nothing about the traditions of Hanukkah, but I plan to try my hand at making some potato latkes and playing the dreidel game. I will light a candle each night, and although I don't know the Hebrew prayers, I am fairly certain that celebrating Hanukkah will help me feel like my mom and grandmother are still here with me in spirit.
Hanukkah Sameach or Happy Hanukkah everyone
here is a website I found with more info about the traditions of Hanukkah http://toriavey.com/hanukkah-the-festival-of-lights/