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It has been too long since our last major holiday. I've been working, and it got me thinking. Thank Gd Purim and Pesach are coming. I need a break.
I loved the holidays as a young boy and I still love them today. Holidays meant days off from school. And that meant happiness. A happiness engraved in my soul. So, I bring you some of memories of my love of holidays in third grade.
I Loved the Food
Brisket meant two days with no school. That juicy meat was good, and it meant no classes. That's how I associate with brisket.
My mom was always happy around holiday time, as it's a Mitzvah to be happy. She would also complain about the two day holidays that Jews keep when they are outside of Israel. Apparently, my mom didn’t like cooking as much as I thought. I thought she delighted in cooking the required 15 meals, for the seven of us, and the guests. She would call it slaving. Even so, she looked nothing like the Jews leaving Egypt. I had a picture Haggadah. I never saw one of those slaves cooking.
My mom would never let the guests know of her situation as a parent. If she would have told somebody, they might have gotten her out of it. At a certain point, when I took my first standardized test, I began to understand my mom. I told the guests about true slavery.
I Loved Praying
Holidays meant shul and prayer. I felt so close to Gd when I was in third grade, that I prayed every day for no school. I even began praying for brisket. That prayer went, ‘May my mom not be a slave, so she can cook.’
Believing in Gd meant more vacation and I connected with my religion.
I wished the holidays would last all year. I wouldn’t have to go to school and my mom would be able to make a hot lunch every day. This way she could get used to cooking all the time, and not feel like she was slaving. As I learned in school, the more you get used to something, the less it feels like a chore. And that was true for everything, but school.
One thing that had me questioning omnipotence, was bagged lunches.
Half Day of School is Still Religious
I would also get excited for minor holidays. I define minor holidays by celebrating in school. That meant my parents would have to go to work; that didn't hurt my celebration.
Even when we did have school, holidays meant more art projects and other activities we called religious, because they taught us nothing.
On Purim, we would have a half day of school and that was the Purim carnival. I even enjoyed the throw the sponge at David’s face booth, as I was committed to the community. I would risk my well-being for the sake of fewer classes.
Even fast days were great, as we would get half day off of school. I became a devout youth and started praying for more tragedy.
Chabad Loves Booths & I Love Chabad
The Chabad rabbis always had these great booths. We would get to skip class for a shofar making booth, where we made shofars we couldn’t use. We also learned about the bad smell of a ram’s horn. They also had a grogger making booth, for Purim, where we made noise makers that were too heavy to pick up.
I was a big fan of the booths, though the Chanukah Menorahmobile, with the lit candles, always looked dangerous. I stay away from booths in transit.
Factories are Better than Booths
There was the Chabad Matzah Factory, or as I called it, dream day. This took place a week before the Pesach. The Matzah Factory, multiple booth set-up, including a field trip. A whole half a day off from school, to have us flatten dough for Passover. Though it was matzah, we couldn't it eat on Passover. That was part of the education, letting us know that no matter how well we kept the commandments, it was not good enough. As such, our Matzah was not fit for Passover.
I was happy with the sweatshop Matzah work. Many people look at sweatshop work as though it is negative. They think, child labor is wrong. However, it is OK if it is for education. The school also had us selling chocolate bars at a 600% profit, for which we received a rubber basketball if we sold $500 worth, as child labor is OK if done for education.
I loved holidays before the holidays even happened. Half a day off of school. Who could have ever thought that 18 minutes could last so long?
Holidays with Full Day of School = Not Jewish
These days were of religious nature, as we had an extra art class. Even so, as much as I loved papier-mâché, they were not Jewish to me. This is why I never considered Martin Luther King Jr. a Jew. Not to offend.
I knew when a non-Jewish holiday was coming, as 'Day' always followed the name. Lincoln Day, Martin Luther King Day, Evacuation Day, which they kept us in school for.
Other kids never got days off of school for their holidays. Which made me feel bad for the Christian kids at Hillel Jewish Community Day.
Poem from Third Grade by David Kilimnick
This might just say it all:
How I love you
You are the joy of every Jew
Shavuot, Yom Kippur
I love you too
I love every day
When we don’t have school
Mrs. Funsten gave me a bad grade on that, though ‘school’ loosely rhymes with ‘Jew.’ I had a diction problem and never was able to pronounce the ‘l.’ And that was wrong of her.
Sundays Don’t Last all Week
Would I have traded my religion for a whole week of Sundays? Yes. But you have to live in reality, and I never witnessed anybody who had a whole week of television. Heaven does not exist on earth.
Educational television gave me hope for a better world. ‘321 Contact’ was that little piece of heaven brought into the hell of school. Those genius 8-year-old detectives were as close to redeemers I have ever witnessed. I love you Bloodhound Gang. I have no idea how you made it to Mrs. Funsten’s class, but thank you. You taught me that gangs are good.
Finished School - Still Religious?
Once school stopped, I had no reason to be Jewish. I could have as many vacation days as I wanted. Then I got a job. I was once again a believer. I got to take days off of work because of my religion… Then they started making me come in on Sundays, because of the holidays I took off.
I will forever love our holidays. Holidays, food and no school are one in the same. I can't wait for Purim next week, and Pesach next month. If it was Thanksgiving, it would be just as good. We got off of school then too. And my mom made brisket.
Thou shalt not lie. If we would've had a day off and recess, I would've loved being Jewish more. For the educators of our youth, I am putting that out there.
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I was going to do Kaparos before Yom Kippur, but I chickened out.
You get it? Kaparos is the tradition of placing your sins on something else, the day before Yom Kippur, traditionally a chicken, and waiving it. He chickened out of the chicken. He might've done it with money in the end. But that would still be without a chicken.
Designated stroller parking area. Something every shul needs, so I can get through the entrance on Yom Kippur... Truth is they should have stroller parking all the time. The entrance is always blocked.
Problem: Merv and Bernie will end up parking there. They already take the disabled parking spots and walk just fine. When it comes to parking, every member of our congregation is disabled.
Side Note: Figured out why so many kids come to shul on Yom Kippur. Because they get to eat in shul on Yom Kippur.