This has been a very special Chanukah for me. Not only has this been the first Chanukah at home with family in quite some years, but I have been able to participate in some truly inspiring and wonderful events that I would have missed out on otherwise. Though I miss my Israeli family terribly, I have truly been having the most wonderful time at home in California.
This Chanukah I was invited by my mother, the new Director of Education at Temple Sinai, to assist with the entertainment for a luncheon honoring Holocaust survivors that are currently living in the Coachella Valley. I was so excited to participate that I put my bought of stage fright aside, picked up a microphone, and went to town on some Chanukah favorites with the Rabbi accompanying me on guitar and my mom joining in the singing as well. It was so great seeing all of the survivors singing holiday songs with us, and when we wrapped everything up with Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem, it was time to serve everyone lunch. I grabbed my plastic gloves, took my station at the scrumptious looking brisket, and was honored beyond measure to serve people who have been through the worst atrocities known to mankind. These people are the definition of strength and resilience, and I was just so happy to meet all of them. Some had even heard me speak at the big Desert City Hadassah event and it was great seeing them all again! I’m happy to take all of their stories and strength with me as I continue to fight the fight for Israel and the Jewish people!
It was a wonderful day that was even further improved when my Uncle Scott surprised everyone by coming in to town for the holidays! He is possible the most awesome Uncle in the entire world and I was so glad to have some time to spend with him! Jasper was possible the most excited to meet Uncle Scott because he had finally found a male in the family who seemed to love and attend to him as much as I do (well maybe not as much but still he was enjoying the great attention and always being included!).
While my Uncle was in town we enjoyed beautiful weather, many walks to the dog park in Bubby’s complex (which was a great way to complete wipe the dog out), great food, a Chanukah celebration at my dad’s house that doubled as my sister’s family birthday gathering (it is her birthday today and she is the big 24!!!), and a brunch that included all of my grandparent’s oldest and dearest friends (and of course Jasper). It was a perfect way to celebrate my Uncle’s visit, and though it was short, we will be seeing plenty of him this summer when Stephane and I are home.
The Israeli Invasion
Once Uncle Scott left I was not left without plenty to occupy my time. Temple Sinai is hosting a cultural exchange with 17 Israeli teenagers who are coming here for the week to stay with host families of children from our community who went to Israel last year for this same type of exchange. Because I speak Hebrew I have been requested to help with a lot of the activities, and I have thus far enjoyed house parties, trips to the Tolerance center and Holocaust memorial park, a night seeing the light display at our Living Desert park, and we will soon be showing the Israelis our Indian Canyons, Downtown Palm Springs, they will have a traditional Jewish Christmas with Chinese food and movies, they will be taken to volunteer to feed the homeless on Christmas day, they will see our desert mountains when we take them up to the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway, and then they will head back home to Israel after a Shabbat service and celebration this upcoming Friday night. So far it has been quite a whirlwind trip but it is very nice seeing them all here, and the best part is they can’t talk about me because I understand everything they say! It is also nice to speak Hebrew again and it’s getting me quite excited to return home in two short weeks.
Well that’s about all of the updates for now! Stay tuned to hear more about the program with the Israelis. I love you forever and always, Friend, and I can’t tell you how much I wish you were still here (especially during the holidays).
Until we meet again <3,