I insisted that one decoration, a dancing sevivon (dreidel) man, remain hanging in recognition of the chag. Some in my family questioned the appropriateness of this decision. Was it proper to have decorations hanging in what would soon become a house of shiva?
There is much in this episode that is hard to understand, much that has to do with the concept of holiness and the powerful energies it released that, like nuclear power today, could be deadly dangerous if not properly used. But there is also a more human story about two approaches to leadership that still resonates with us today.
It is my family’s minhag, for many generations, to light the candles 30 minutes before shekiah, as opposed to the commonly held custom of 20 minutes. So I told my husband that those 10 extra minutes should not be an issue.
So goes the story about a man in the silly town of Chelm who visited a public bathhouse and found himself in a terrible predicament. Without the distinction of clothing, everyone looked alike. “Among all these men who look alike,” he said to himself, “how will I ever know which one is me?” He solved his dilemma by tying a red string around his big toe.
I was pretty open [and naïve] about accepting dating suggestions. There was the Israeli that spoke little English with whom I could barely communicate, the brilliant scholar who I discovered was manic depressive, the frum hippie that was still more hippie than frum, and a slew of others – all interesting, but not for me.