Posted by Ilana Angel
I wished an older lady at Whole Foods Happy Holidays this week and was immediately reprimanded for not saying Merry Christmas. She looked me straight in the eye and said something along these lines: It’s Christmas for Christ’s sake. Just say it. There are no other holidays now. What are you talking about? Merry Christmas!
She was probably in her 70’s and was perhaps having a bad day, but really? I calmly looked at her and said it was in fact a holiday season with Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year’s and Christmas. She then asked if I was a Jew. I started laughing for some reason, told her I was, wished her a Happy Holiday again, and walked away from her.
Merry Christmas indeed! I sent an email to London for a client and ended my email with Happy Holidays. I got a reply saying they don’t say Happy Holidays in England and I should just say Merry Christmas. Really? I get that Christmas is coming, and it’s a big deal to some, but it’s not the only holiday in December, and not one I celebrate.
I like Christmas carols, thinks Christmas lights are beautiful, and can even appreciate a well decorated tree. If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I will wish them one back. I’m just not one to voluntarily throw out Merry Christmas to a stranger as I do not know if they care about having a Merry Christmas. If I don’t know you, why presume?
I love the holidays of winter and truly think of December as being festive. Christmas is certainly shoved down all of our throats in a commercial nothing to do with Jesus kind of way, but that’s okay. Kids love Christmas and Hanukkah, and I love seeing them excited about the holidays. For adults, I feel like it’s a time for all of us to be kind to one another.
A good Christmas carol can calm down road rage when trying to get into a mall, or a chocolate Christmas tree can take the edge off a crazy day at work. Watching a little girl scream in delight at the sight of Santa, or a little boy scream in anger when told to wait for Santa to get a toy, is all fun and I’m in. I will celebrate the season, but that’s it.
I’m not getting a Christmas tree, I do not celebrate Christmas, and I don’t understand being told I must wish people a Merry Christmas. I am celebrating Hanukkah, and will spend Christmas at a good movie followed by Chinese food. I will wish you a Merry Christmas if you wish me one, and everyone else is getting a heartfelt Happy Holidays wish.
It’s not about me being rude, or a crazy Jew that is hating on Christmas, it’s just that I think of December as a month of holidays. I’m not being politically correct by wanting to include everyone, the fact is that’s it the holiday season. That’s it. No big anti-Christmas conspiracy on my part. Lighten up, it’s the holidays!
I actually love Christmas time. I grew up with Christmas all around me and not a huge Jewish population, so I get it. I have celebrated it at the homes of my friends, and embrace the joys of the holiday now. That said, it’s not my holiday and never will be, so to this nasty old woman with a very Scrooge attitude, I say HAPPY HOLIDAYS and keep the faith.
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December 15, 2011 | 9:57 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
Stern College for Women is part of Yeshiva University of Manhattan. It is an Orthodox Jewish school, and while it has classes that are religious based and not, it is a religious campus and the rules and regulations of Orthodoxy are followed. Even if it means censorship.
Earlier this week an Orthodox female student wrote an essay that was published online through The Beacon, a school paper. She wrote about the sex life of an unmarried Orthodox woman who goes to a hotel, and has sex with her lover, then regrets it.
I enjoyed her writing. I thought her story was sexy. As a woman, I could understand her passion and regret, and it would be a shame if this uproar silenced this girl’s writing. Even though you write about sex doesn’t mean you’re having sex. My blog is proof of that.
I have read the essay, and don’t understand why it has ruffled so many feathers. Since premarital sex is forbidden in Orthodoxy, there is now a firestorm on campus, which in my opinion has put an unflattering light on this population of the Jewish faith, and brings up a lot of interesting questions.
This woman wrote an essay and many are trying to censor her. The religious faction of the school is pressuring those that published it to take it down as it is offensive to Orthodoxy. Is that not religious bullying? If you don’t like the subject, don’t read the essay. It’s quite simple.
With no disrespect, I doubt all Orthodox Jews are not having premarital sex. That said, let’s assume there is not one single Orthodox Jew having sex before marriage. If this community wants us to believe that, fine. We won’t of course, but it’s okay that you want us to..
Even if you are not having any sex, it does not mean you are not able to think about it, talk about it, fantasize about it, and write about it. There are Orthodox sex toy companies, Orthodox porn, and websites catering to Orthodox affairs, so why are so many panties in a twist about this essay?
Is the issue that she wrote about premarital sex, or that she may have had it? Some kids on campus said the act itself is forbidden, and others seemed more concerned with the sharing of something that should be kept private. If you have sex but keep it quiet is that?
People are having sex before marriage in the Orthodox community. I don’t know if the author of the essay is, but who cares? She is a writer, who shared a story that required bravery. She should be applauded, not made to feel bad about her work. The hypocrisy of faith is baffling.
Members of the student council asked for the essay to be removed and while The Beacon is under tremendous pressure, they severed their ties with the school and left the essay up. Bravo to them for doing the right thing and allowing this woman’s voice to be heard.
Sex, politics and religion are taboo, but writing about them is fabulous. What would the reaction have been had the essay been written by a male student? I’m guessing it would not be as big of a deal. Women are not allowed to be sexual without being labeled a slut, or a religious failure.
I am proud of this young girl for writing this essay. It is sometimes difficult when all Jews, from Reform to Orthodox are lumped into one religious bucket. Orthodox Jews are a religion on their own, and that they are looking down upon this woman is lame and unkindness God would not approve of.
Before you write that I do not know what God would approve of, I am speaking of my God, the God that guides me though my life and faith. This God is kind, compassionate, and does not judge. It was just an essay, and not anything that needs this much judgment.
I am not judging Orthodox Jews, and certainly not mocking their beliefs, I am only saying that just because you don’t talk about premarital sex, does not mean it is not happening. It is happening, and trying to silence the essay’s writer is an embarrassing example of how to keep the faith.
December 13, 2011 | 1:26 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
It rained on Monday in Los Angeles. This means I thought about killing people for most of the day. By killing them of course I mean I wanted to get out of my car, knock on their windows, and ask what the hell they were doing. I wouldn’t have had time to kill anyone because the traffic was so bad I never got anywhere. How is it possible an entire city can’t drive in the rain?
I went to the market and waited 10 minutes for a woman to back out of her parking space. I could not move as there was a car in front and one in back of me, both honking. I just sat there as this woman, who was about 400 years old and could see about 2 inches over the steering wheel, backed out of her spot with a look of complete terror that she had to do it in the rain.
Important to note that at that point it was not even raining. It was simply wet from an earlier rain, but that was enough to put her into a deep panic. I don’t want to harp on her because God bless her she was ancient. I am prepared to harp on the young kid who was clearing driving his mother’s car and thought hydroplaning was a fun way to spend the afternoon.
To clarify, I know it was his mother’s car because the back window had those stickers that show a family of cartoon characters. A mom, dad, 3 kids and 2 dogs. A teenager is not putting those stickers on his car. I could not handle his irresponsibility, so after watching him speed through the rain at dangerous speeds three times, I took matters into my own hands.
I copied down his license plate, and then at the next red light, I pulled in front of him, got out of my car and knocked on his window. He opened his window and I lost my mind, yelling that he was putting himself and me in danger by driving like an ass. I then told him I knew who his mother was and was going to call her and let her know his should lose his driving privileges.
Of course I had no idea who his mother was, but I scared the crap out of him and hopefully he knocked it off with the speeding, and was more mindful of his choices. Rain in Los Angeles is hell on earth. It is a painful experience and what sick days are for. Everyone who cannot drive should use their sick days when it rains so they are off the road and I can drive in peace.
While it feels as if I’m the only person who knows how to drive in the rain, there are others. I have seen them. Actually, I would be willing to bet that when I see another good driver on the streets of Los Angeles during a rain, they are not from Los Angeles. The forecast is calling for more rain on Tuesday, which is unfortunate. Buckle up and keep the faith.
December 11, 2011 | 10:43 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
My mother has unexpectedly been admitted to the hospital and I am asking that those of you who pray please send prayers her way.
She is a remarkable woman, Mother, Grandmother, friend, and human being.
I love her as she loves me, which is unmeasurable, and I want her home.
I will see you soon Mummy.
Keep the faith.
December 8, 2011 | 10:06 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
When my doctor told me I was pregnant, I fainted. I was 29 years old and my lifelong dream was to be a mother, so when it was confirmed, after years of trying, it was too much joy to handle I simply fainted. It was a wonderful day and the love I felt for my child at that exact moment has been with me ever since.
Months later, when my doctor told me I was going to have a son, I could feel my heart swell. It was a day that is engraved into my memory and I have visited that moment many, many times over the past 16 years. With each breath that I take, I love my son more. He is perfection to me and I am in awe of him.
Once I knew for sure it was a boy, I went shopping and bought my son a Tallit for his Bar Mitzvah. For the next 13 plus years, I kept his Tallit in my closet and would take it out often. It may sound silly, but I would share all my dreams and fears with the Tallit. It became the keeper of my prayers. I would write things down on paper, then fold them up and place them in the pouch that stored the Tallit. When my son crawled for the first time, then walked, talked, ran, and told me he loved me, I wrote it all down and tucked it away with my most treasured material thing, the Tallit.
It is a simple, elegant, beautiful shawl. I did not know anything about my child when I bought it, but it spoke to me and now when he wears it, it is as if it was made special for him. Even though it is now a little too small, my child cherishes it and will give it his own child one day. About a week before the Bar Mitzvah, I took out the Tallit and held it tight. For the first time in 13 years I opened every piece of paper and read each one. It took me about 4 hours because it’s hard to read when you are crying. It was a stroll through my life as a mother, and also a great lesson.
As a single mom there were times that were so hard I don’t know how I made it through. I was reminded of my struggles and triumphs. The papers allowed me to see what a great mother I had become and that I had raised a remarkable and wonderful human being. It was a blessing. When I was done, I took all the papers and burned them in a trashcan. The Tallit was no longer going to hold my dreams and prayers, and would begin holding those of my son. I put all the ashes in a bag, when I returned to Montreal to visit my family, I sprinkled them on the grave of my father.
My dad was not alive to see my son become a Bar Mitzvah, but he knew how hard I worked to get to that place, and so putting my dreams and prayers with him felt like coming full circle. I miss my father every single day and to share that day with him in this way mattered to me. I miss my father so much today that it aches. I had a rough day and all I wanted to do was call him and be comforted by his voice. He was a really lovely man and his support of me was endless and sustained me as a single mother, trying to raise a boy with Jewish values, far from my family.
I read an article here at JewishJournal.com by David Suissa, that made me cry. It’s been such an emotional day that the story mattered to me more than perhaps it would have on another day. Mr. Suissa wrote about a program called REMEMBER US and I recommend you read it. ETo read about Adam Unger and Daniel Pyser was very moving. A Bar Mitzvah is not only important from a religious perspective, but as a parent it is an emotional gift to experience this rite of passage with our young children, who were once our babies, and will carry our faith forward.
I feel the importance of faith today. I have a frame in my home that holds two pictures, one of my son and one of my father on the day each of them were called to the Bimah to become a Bar Mitzvah, which is more than a tradition. It speaks to who we are as Jews, parents, and a people. My father lives on through my son. My son will take all my prayers with him throughout his life, as I take those of my father. I will forever remember the story of Adam, have respect for Daniel, be proud of my son, and love my father for teaching me to keep the faith.
December 8, 2011 | 12:44 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
I love the holidays. From the sound of kids laughing at Hanukkah, the smell of latkes, Christmas carols in the mall, gorgeous wrapping paper, Kleenex and diamond commercials that make me cry, to people being in the holiday spirit, it all makes me happy. There is something magical about the holidays and no matter what your religion is, for a brief moment, it feels like joy to the world is possible. It is a time of faith and I love that about the holidays.
Being in love at the holidays is a great thing. While I like going out, it’s the part of the holiday season where you stay in that I crave. Snuggling on the couch to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, preparing a home cooked meal together, doing the dishes once the kids have gone to bed, and slow dancing to Al Green in the kitchen. Those are things I miss about a relationship. I miss those things anytime of the year, but at the holidays it actually aches.
So as Hanukkah approaches, I decided to cancel my online dating account and take down my profile. I figure there is a certain desperation that is happening this time of year and I’d rather not be a part of it. Once I made the decision I immediately thought it was a mistake. Would this choice cause me to miss out on a great man? Why couldn’t I leave it up and just see what happened? Why was I so scared?
I actually prayed on this one. I asked God to give me peace so I could let it all happen as it should, without my interfering. I don’t want to be that girl who stands in the way of her own happiness by over thinking or sabotaging love. Then, because God listens, I got an email today that put it all into perspective and gave me clarity on my online dating life. I am now firm on a decision and am feeling blessed to have God guiding me.
The email read as follows: “Hi. You have a warm face, kind iyes, and grate hair. I would love to take you out and spend the night kissing you. What a sweetheart you are. I think we be fall in love. Its Gods wish. Letz go out tongight so by New year we can make love and bring 2012 together. Here is my number xxxxx. I am wating to hear from you.” Not one single word has been changed. This is exactly what I received.
Online dating is painful but this guy put me over the edge, so my profile is down. I think my online dating days have reached their end and so I am happy about that. I have a little crush on someone interesting and so I am happy about that too. Soon it will be latke time and It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz, and Little Women will be on television. The hope of sharing the holidays one day is comforting, and reminds me to always keep the faith.
December 7, 2011 | 9:09 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
I grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and I know what winter is. Cold, dark, snow, ice, wind, all of it. Days when your actual bones shiver, and spending 15 minutes getting into a snowsuit, to then spend 15 minutes getting the ice off the car is just not worth it so you stay home. Winter is cold, and as a Canadian from the prairies, I can assure you I know winter.
Winter in LA is a whole other story. I have been to the beach on Christmas day getting a suntan, and worn a sleeveless dress with no jacket on New Year’s Eve. Los Angeles is blessed with an easy winter and I have been grateful for twenty years. I miss a Canadian winter though and go home just so I can experience frozen bones and an afternoon of sledding.
When I left my house this morning at 6:30, I stepped outside and gasped. It was so cold that it caught my breath and I actually panicked for a minute. Where was I? What was happening? It was 32° and for the first time in as long as I can remember, my bones were shivering. It is so cold that I can see my breath and am quite certain I smell snow in the air.
I did the only thing I know how to do in such a situation, I turned around, went back in the house, put the kettle on, and waited for the news to tell me it was a snow day and I didn’t need to leave the house. I am now sitting with a cup of tea, in a sweater, a coat, a scarf, hat, and gloves, with the heater on full blast, trying to warm up my freezing bones.
I turned the TV on just in time to hear Matt Lauer tell me that the east coast, from North Carolina to Maine, is bracing for a Nor’easter and expect to be pounded with up to a foot of snow. I appreciate that it’s sunny with no chance of snow in LA, but that does not take the sting out of the chill in the air, and I don’t feel bad for complaining about the bitter cold.
Now, just because I do not feel bad does not mean I am not a little embarrassed. Has my blood thinned so much that my Canadian resilience has turned into a spoiled LA brat? Am I now a wimp who complains of freezing every time I need to put on a sweater? What has happened to me? There was a time when 32° was simply a brisk day. I’m sorry Canada.
It is humiliating to have become so weak when it comes to the cold, and I never thought this day would come. You would think there was a foot of snow outside my door the way I am avoiding leaving. Can I really call myself a true Canadian when 32° and sunny is enough to declare a snow day? To those who are experiencing a real winter, please forgive me.
To my beloved Canada, after twenty winters away it makes sense that I would lose my winter edge. I fear that even if I return and experience first hand what cold really is, I will not get back to my true Canadian spirit. Perhaps I must simply admit I am a winter wimp and own it. Will the Motherland forgive my weakness? I’m keeping the faith.
December 4, 2011 | 1:00 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I love you. You are a brave young man and I am holding you close to my heart. I feel your sadness, pain, confusion, fear and hope. Hold on Jonah because this too shall pass, even though it feels like it never will. You are blessed with courage and your video is powerful. I have cried for you, and with you. You are inspiring and by sharing your story, you will bring change. I am your friend Jonah. You are going to be okay. You are okay. Be as proud of yourself, as all of us are proud of you. I love you Jonah. Keep the faith.