chhhhats off to chhhanukkah

Holiday playlist #2: Interfaith Winter Holiday

So we do both Hanukkah and Christmas at my house, and a strong majority of my friends are pagan or witchy, so I’m trying to rep everyone with this playlist.  The Yule representation is just English folksongs, best I could do.  And yes, that is Sacha Baron Cohen’s brother, showing up twice because he made an album of pretty decent Hanukkah music.

  1. Sinéad O'Connor & The Monks of Glenstal Abbey - The Darkest Midnight
  2. Spirit of the West - Christmas Eve
  3. The Klezmatics - Spin Dreydl Spin
  4. Natalie Merchant - Children Go Where I Send Thee
  5. Barenaked Ladies - Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah
  6. Monks and Choirs of Kiev Pechersk Lavra - Christ Is Borning Today [sic]
  7. Anushka & Choir Rolnicka - Veselé Vánoční Hody
  8. Erran Baron Cohen - Ma'oz Tzur
  9. Alison Krauss & Yo-Yo Ma - The Wexford Carol
  10. Bruce Cockburn - The Huron Carol
  11. The LeeVees & The LeeVees - Nun Gimmel Heh Shin
  12. Dave Swarbick & Martin Carthy - The Wren
  13. Traveler’s Dream - Rise Up, Jock!
  14. Erran Baron Cohen - Ocho Kandelikas (feat. Yasmin Levy)
  15. Sinéad O'Connor - Silent Night (Ghost of Oxford Street version)

My traditional Amazon birthday order

…is nothing but Judaica this year.  After repeated email requests to my rabbi for a list of recommends, he still hasn’t responded.  I know he’s a busy guy but this has been happening to me a lot lately with different people, and I’m tired of running after them for emails right now.  So instead I picked some books for myself.

  • a Chumash, the Artscroll Stone edition, even though I know my rabbi has Opinions about Artscroll.  Suck it, boyo, it was the best price and size, and also this is what happens when you don’t give guidance to your conversion students.
  • Embracing Judaism, Simcha Kling.  This one he actually did recommend, along with the omnipresent Anita Diamant book that I’d already read.
  • Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew, Ethelyn Simon and Joseph Anderson.  I do already have a grammar book, but it starts off assuming literacy and uh I’m still struggling a bit.
  • God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, Abraham Joshua Heschel.  I like Heschel a lot; I read The Sabbath already so it was just a matter of picking one to do next.
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought, Michael L. Munk, Nosson Scherman.  I’m interested in this angle of things (those gematriya battles in The Chosen affected me early) and I also thought it would help cement the alphabet more in my head.
  • Stories for Children and The Collected Stories, Isaac Bashevis Singer.  This is basically candy.  It’s my birthday, leave me alone.
  • annnnd finally, I bought the most boring traditional-looking brass menorah I could afford.  Since it will be the only menorah in town, I wanted something visibly and identifiably Jewish (distinguishable from the electric candelabra some non-Jewish families put up as part of Christmas decorations).  And not too kitschy.

So that’s my upcoming 30th birthday.  (It’s on the 21st, and knowing Canada Post, these will probably all be late, but not by too much.)  I am a little existentially bummed about the aging thing, but I’m learning new stuff and doing something spiritually that I’ve wanted to do for half my life, if not more.  I have a beautiful, witty and passionate fiancée whom I adore, even though we still have to live apart.  My various minor but chronic health complaints have eased up this year.  I am inclined to the view that being 29 and turning 30 is better than being 29 and not turning 30, after all, and that’s the important thing.

Rough sketch for my Hanukkah card this year.  I’m only sending one to C and one to the family that hosted me for the High Holy Days so it’s not difficult to dash off a couple of goofy polar bear cartoons.  The box says “Chabad Nunavut” but I may leave it out to simplify the image, and because not everyone finds it hilarious to joke about Chabad.  My rabbi always just sort of sighs heavily when they’re mentioned.

(I guess I could send him one too if I can find his address. Synagogue’s website hasn’t been updated since like 1998, though.)


1. I don’t know what happened here.  I lit them all at the same time.  This is surely an omen.

2. The sugar-rolling part didn’t come off so hot but my friends, this is a cutting-board full of murder.  Eat my light fluffy donuts, fools.  You will not feel full until the third one but they’re packed with butter and oil and cream. (Fillings are cinnamon-chocolate with a pinch of cayenne, chai buttercream, and not salted caramel because that one didn’t work.)