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On November 5, a middle-aged woman walked up to her polling place in Rochester, New York. She entered the voting booth, and filled out her ballot indicating her preferred candidate. She dropped her completed ballot into the ballot box and went home.
The contemporary custom of wrapping presents gifts arose in conjunction with Christmas, but many aspects of gift-giving have distinctly Jewish roots, each of which has helped set the stage for the development of the ritual into what it is today.
by Nancy Crown When I was called to meet with a member of my synagogue’s Congregation-Based Community Organizing Committee, I almost declined. I was asked to think about what the temple could do that it was not already doing. My main reaction was to reflect on the many opportunities for learning, worship, and community that I wasn’t partaking of, due to limited time and a longstanding “outsider” feeling when it comes to religion. Like many others, my upbringing did not include much meaningful participation in the spiritual aspects of Judaism. My daughter, now 28 years old, has developmental disabilities. She was keenly interested in Judaism as a young child, but as a teen, she began to talk about converting to another religion. By that time, our son was enrolled in school at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, where we were members. We chose a Jewish day school for a number of reasons, including our desire for our son to feel more secure in his Jewish identity than my husband, my daughter, or I had felt. We began lighting candles on Friday nights. I took Hebrew classes. We attended services, where, at moments, I would feel an achy kind of longing, alongside a feeling of being an outsider. Try as I might, I couldn’t quite find a way in.
When I was a student at the Anshe Emet Day School in Chicago, Illinois, I had a Hebrew teacher who suggested that every night before we went to sleep, it would be meaningful to recite the last verse of Adon Olam.
We took advantage of our empty nest status to take a week-long trip to Spain this month, the first time in almost 20 years that we could travel at a time when schools weren’t on vacation.
Childhood memories are vague at the best of times. Our remembrances tend to be pictures shown and stories told to us by others. But what happens when a family chooses not to remember because the memories are too painful or too shameful?