Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
In Hong Kong, there are certainly some inconveniences involved in finding every last product necessary to recreate the Pesach we had in New York. But, we have found it is merely a matter of mastering logistics and advance planning. Sometimes it involves finding shlepers coming in from the States willing to take a few bulky boxes of tasteless Crispy O’s and Streits Brownie Mix in an extra suitcase. This is all part of the Hong Kong festival ritual.
Communal Sedarim here are not cold, lonely events for a few lone wanders. We are all strangers in a strange land and participation in communal Sedarim are part of our new Easterly landscape. Living far from our extended family, counter-intuitively we find that our Seder tables do not get smaller here, but exponentially grow and expand with friends from around the world with unique foods and tunes of their own to share. Around the table reading the Haggadah there are Americans, British, French, Yemenites, Israelis, Swiss, Belgians and Indians. It is a time to create original family traditions that blend the old with the new, the West with the East.
For our family, it is also time to take out the Moshe Rabbeinu Lego. This is not part of the latest Adventurers Egypt Set. It is an entirely original product of our own “wandering” through the Far East for eight years. One of the incidental advantages of raising Jewish children in the Far East is the relative absence of Christian culture and symbolism. A couple of years back, my father-in-law brought us a mixed box of old Legos that his neighbor had given him. My children eagerly poured through it, sifting though random bits of Lego past when my then six-year old daughter exclaimed that she had found the most special piece of Lego ever, a Moshe Rabbeinu. She clutched it in her hand and ran into her room to hide her precious find from her brothers. For days, she would barricade her door and only take Moshe Rabbeinu out when she was certain it was safe. All we heard about was this Moshe Rabbeinu figurine.
My pragmatic seven-year old, a naysayer from the start, was insistent that there was no such thing as a Moshe Rabbeinu Lego piece. To backup his declaration, he did a Google search followed by a detailed study of the Lego website. He needed final proof and he burst into her room, tackling her to the ground, prying the figure from her hands.
Quickly responding to break up the fight and to finally see said Moshe Rabbeinu for myself, I find my son on the floor in a fit of hysterics that has brought him to tears. For a moment, I am uncertain whether he is actually crying or laughing. Barely able to catch his breath and speak through his hysterics, he yells out, “It’s not Moshe Rabbeinu. It’s Santa Claus!”
In tears, my daughter cries out, “Santa Claus? I don’t even know who that is. It is Moshe Rabbeinu! Right Mommy? See. He’s got the long white beard.” She recovers the red suited, wide black-belted, white bearded figure and holds him up for my inspection.
She is six and has never heard of Santa Claus! The Easter Bunny doesn’t exist in her consciousness. A Christmas tree or a red wreath in a shopping mall would most likely go unnoticed or be summarily categorized as early Chinese New Year decorations in her head.
I carefully examine the figure and respond to her, “Without the packaging, I can’t be 100% certain. You could be right.”
My sev en-year old, now frustrated, cries out, “This is ridiculous. Why would Moshe Rabbeinu wear a red snow suit?”
With uninhibited faith she immediately responds, “Duh. The desert is very cold at night.”
I know that soon, even here, without the Charlie Brown specials, colorful televised parades and watered-down quasi-religious public school classroom “holiday” celebrations, she will learn what the Easter Bunny is and know what a Christmas tree is. But for now, I can continue to raise her in a Jewish bubble, eating kosher l’Pesach egg noodles with chopsticks.
Erica Lyons, a Hong Kong-based freelance writer and editor, is the founder of Asian Jewish Life- a journal of spirit, society and culture for and about Jews in the Far East. She welcomes comments at email@example.com
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Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.
It’s all over.
The orchestra is still, the lights are dimmed. Your simcha outfits hang in your closet, silent witnesses to a time you will treasure in your mind and heart forever.
After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
I have always had a problem with the Omer. Doing the mitzvah of counting the Omer was of course pretty easy. Remembering to start the second evening of Passover and remembering to stop the day before Shavous took a little concentration but somehow I always managed. No, for me the nagging problem was always why was I doing this in the first place, other than the fact it was a biblical (according to the Rambam) commandment.
With the semi-mourning period of Sefira behind us, and the festival of Shavuot as well (as evidenced by the tightness of our clothing due to over-indulging in irresistible versions of cheesecake that is an integral component of celebrating our receipt of the Torah), our community can look forward to participating in joyous engagement parties and weddings.
Dear Dr. Yael:
Do you really believe that the Internet is the reason why the divorce rate is so high among young couples? This may be so in some cases, but what about the fact that many singles are pressured to get married at a young age despite not having any idea what they are looking for in a mate? And add to that the fact that many are pressured to make a decision about marriage after dating for a very short period of time.
From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.
Shel Silverstein’s 1974 poem “Where The Sidewalk Ends” is intended to paint a magical picture of a world of peace and serenity far away from the “black and dark streets.” At the time, perhaps the end of the sidewalk was a place that was “measured and slow.” Today, however, for many parents, where the sidewalk ends can feel like a scary place.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Florida is famous for sparkling water. We have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico surrounding our coast. We have bays, lakes, canals and, of course, an incredible abundance of swimming pools in homes, resorts, apartment complexes and city parks.
The buzz is back as Camp Gan Israel Florida Overnight gears up for another fantastic summer, CGI Florida style. What makes CGI Florida so different from all the other overnight camps? It’s all in the details.
Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
It started as my daughter’s third grade assignment: choose a person to write about, preferably an American, preferably a Jew. We were going to do just that. I intended to help my daughter choose the topic and then to back away yet, Emma Lazarus ended up drawing me in.
I met Mr. E at a poetry reading. Hong Kong’s literary scene is small and two Americans reading in one evening was an unusual event. We became Facebook friends, generally “liking” the same local literary events and book launches.
A Hong Kong symphony of sounds fills the air as local laborers shout across the shul courtyard in Cantonese while tossing bamboo in a pile for the sukkah: Filipino maids chatter in Tagalog hovering over the children in their charge, the radio of the Nepalese gurkhas, the Synagogue security, crackles and jackhammers provide the background music. The thick air and humidity within the walls of the partially constructed bamboo sukkah sharply contrasts with the crisp fall air of Sukkot in the northeastern corridor of the United States, where the sukkahs of my childhood were laden with dried fruit and autumn color. Dozens of colorful miniature Chinese paper lanterns dangle from the sukkah and here replace the burnt orange and golden gourds of autumn.
In an effort to procrastinate, I occasionally like to bounce some ideas around. As I work from home with only my two cats for company, this often means waiting until my children return home from school.
Hong Kong’s Ohel Leah Synagogue recently celebrated the dedication of a new Sefer Torah. Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Lady Elaine Sacks joined Rabbi Asher Oser and Assistant Rabbi Ariel Zamir of Ohel Leah at the festivities. Also present were Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon of Chabad of Hong Kong, Rabbis Meir Azarzar and Avner Cohen from the Shuva Israel community, and the sofer, Rabbi Yehonatan Yitzhak-Halevy. Hundreds of members of the Hong Kong Jewish community participated as well.
Pesach means bite-sized sweet kidney mangos and the return of the longon. Shavuot brings back the pomelo. Chanukah means miniature Mandarin oranges. And its always star-fruit for Rosh Hashanah. While our palates might have changed, along with our knowledge of Southeast Asian fruit, when it comes to Pesach it’s really all Osem and Yehuda Matzot for us.
A traditional Purim in Hong Kong requires an obligatory visit to Pottinger Street in the bustling Central District. Also known locally as Stone Step Street, Pottinger Street is more of a steep, irregularly paved pedestrian stone path (with steps too small for Western feet) than a street. My children run ahead up the stone slabs as I carefully balance my size nine feet on the thin, uneven stairs. My five year old stumbles but quickly recovers and catches up to the big kids.
Our Jewish world is small but from his five-year-old perspective it is large, perhaps all-encompassing. The fact that in a population of over 7 million people in Hong Kong (95% of whom are ethnically Chinese) we as Jews collectively account for only about 4,000 or 0.05% of the population can be seemingly irrelevant. Large numbers and statistics don’t play into his worldview.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/moshe-rabbeinu-lego-a-hong-kong-pesach-special/2011/04/21/
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