Some years, my early December birthday
overlaps with Chanukah (don't worry about
the English spelling - there's no right or wrong);
and this is just such a year.
My daughter immediately makes the connection,
as soon as I mention the fact. "Abba'chka,
can we have sufganiyot to celebrate
your birthday this year? Hooray, hooray, hooray, hooray!"
Sufganiyot? Sure, I figured you'd ask. Essentially,
they are donuts, fried in oil, as all
traditional Chanukah foods are; but in Israel -
sufganiyot are a -major-
cultural phenomenon. Every bakery strives
to outdo itself and its competitors every year
with sundry decadent, colorful sufganiyot flavors;
they literally produce -menus-
to guide customers through shelves covered
in donut rainbows.
Throughout much of the Western world,
including the USA - where I grew up - Christmas
trees, Santa Clauses, nativity scenes are everywhere
in the winter season; chicks, eggs,
bunny rabbits are ubiquitous during Easter...
Whereas here, in Israel, the world's one
Jewish state, I see
Jewish, rather than Christian, holiday
symbols in shop windows, lining the streets,
covering the walls of our public schools.
Home; Israel is simply home. It's the one
place in the whole world where it's entirely
natural to be Jewish; I can appreciate this so much
because I'm intimately familiar with the diaspora.
Here, Jewish life is dynamic and
alive; vibrant and colorful -
not unlike the sufganiyot
my daughter has been salivating over
(they're already being sold,
weeks before Chanukah begins,
but I won't tell her that).
My child does not appreciate
Israel, due, in part, to tender age
(only natural); but also perspective -
she has nary a concept of being a religious minority
(only natural). Of course(!) there will be sufganiyot
at every corner during Chanukah - duh!
She's already wondering
what new flavors they'll have this year.
"Yes, Dear, of course we will - we'll go together
to the bakery to pick some out!" And I think
to myself -once again- that -I- could have been
her if my parents
hadn't decided to move our family
Happy birthday, David! Enjoy your sufganiyot this year!