Tuesday, December 15, 2009

C-H-A-N-A-K-A-H (song #2) in the M-A-G-R-E-B

Winona Ryder drinks Manischewitz wine then spins a Dreidle with Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
Lighting candles is not the same. We light with an old school oil menorah. Jacob mumbles what might be Brachot. There is no singing. I miss home Chaunkah. I feel that this must be what Christians feel like when they're not home for Christmas.

Guess who gives and receives loads of Chanukah toys? The girls from Veruca Salt and all three Beastie Boys!
So I went to another Hillulah - well, really just the meals - on the second day of Chanukah. The breakfast and lunch were both catered by - you guessed it - Baria! So of course I invited friends...I knew the food would be fantastic. And it was. Baria had been frantically cooking for this event since last week, and she went to work right after Shabbat and didn't stop (I've never seen such bags under her eyes) until Sunday night. I spent part of Saturday night and Sunday morning helping her (I mean...trying not to get in the way and be useful somehow). The hoity-toity well-to-do Casablancans Baria was anxious to impress showed up around 9, prayed until about 10 and then - finally - breakfast began! I had a lovely time, chatting with a friend who had come, not really noticing much going on around me until a group of police officers waltzed in. At first I was glad - they had invited those who protected them in to eat. But then more began to come. They took over a full table. I was a bit suspicious, sort of confused, but really thought nothing of it and continued chatting with my friend, getting up from time to time to help Baria.

Lenny Kravitz is half Jewish, Courtney Love is half too. Put them together, what a funky bad ass Jew.
When lunchtime (noonish) rolled around I came back from studying to help her again. The Casablancans didn't show up - of course - until 1:30, which made us problematize the heating of the couscous in their tajins (one of my favorite broken plurals: Tajin, pl. tawajin. Just like table: tabla, pl. tawabel. Hilarious.), but whatevs. Baria took it in stride. When the Casablancans had all settled themselves, and I prepped for my new job as waitress, in strode - and I kid you not - a platoon of military officials. Something like 30 police offers, security guards, soldiers, and other sorts of military-types all in uniform to partake of the hillulah feast. I couldn't believe it. I was totally taken aback by their absolute presumptuousness. I felt so bad for Baria I could barely speak, much less smile as I clumsily placed fish balls on their plates. The level of entitlement that they must feel to be able to do that is just shocking. But Baria pulled it off, and we fed those officers and all of their friends, brothers and whoever else they brought with them beause, as Baria said, "Ash Kayideer?" ("what can you do?").

Bob Dylan was born a Jew. Then he wasn't. But now he's back.
Depsite my state of disbelief at the chutzpah of the civil servants of Morocco, I had a wonderful time at lunch. I had no friends there, and so had to talk to everybody else. I was asked where I was from and what I was doing in Morocco every time I got to a new table (which was often), offered approximately two dozen sons or nephews or grandsons in marriage, told that I was "zweena" countless times and made lots of friends who wanted me to come visit them in Casa. A message to them: I probably won't come, but thank you so very much for the invitation.

So many Jews are in the show biz. Bruce Springsteen isn't Jewish, but my mother thinks he is.
Last night I went to a Chanukah party at the Toledanos. I don't have to tell you that the food was to die for. The best part was a sweet tajine with sugared onions, two kinds of dried apricots, and - best of all - figs. She also made three cakes. I am forever in awe of Lisette Toledano's ability to cook. Back to the Chanukah party: This was no ordinary "Lets get together and light the Menorah" (though we did that, of course, and Lisa and I were given positions of honor in front to "lead American songs" after the brachot, mizmor shir l'chanukah, and ma'oz tzur). This was a gathering of all of the American Jews (and wealthy Moroccan Jews) of Rabat. Fascinating crowd. Lisa and I were seated on either side of the American ambassador to Morocco and his wife, Minnesotan Jews, and very interesting people. I chatted with Sylvia (the ambassador's wife) the whole time. We talked about topics ranging from women's rights in Islam and how they compare to Jewish women's, to JStreet and the waxing and waning of the American Jewish left. Like I said, very interesting people. A good time was had by all, and it finally felt like Chanukah. Hopefully tonight will feel like Chanukah, too. There's another Hillulah celebration, though this time its just for the Rabbati Jews, so ti should be a more familiar crowd...and fewer marriage offers.

Have a happy happy happy happy Chanukah!
And with that, I leave you with this song, by a group called - yes - Bible Raps. I heard them first from my friend Danny at Penn. And then they came to Penn. And then I saw them again last year at Limmud. This song is called "Hanukah (Light is in the Air)", and its actually worth a listen. Quite catchy.

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