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76http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/12/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---12_23_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 12_23_2011
12/22/2011 09:12 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
December 23, 2011

 

Three days/two nights were on our itinerary for our wilderness journey to a Texas animal resort with our four children ages 13 through 21. In a Suburban and a sedan, we loaded up food to grill and games to play. Three hours later, we arrived after driving all morning in the rain. The long drought over the summer gave way to seasonal rains. The proprietor told us how lucky we were that it had finally rained. We weren’t so sure. We made several trips from our vehicles through the mud, up the stairs, and into the bungalow that sleeps six --- two comfortably. The bungalow’s deck overlooked the animals that came with our wilderness experience. Fairly up close and through one pair of shared binoculars we observed three pecking ostriches, one hyperactive zebra, one lost camel, one confused giraffe, and several prancing deer. It didn’t take long to anticipate their journeys as they wandered along familiar paths over the plains and into the woods. As dark fell, we settled in, started the grill, and looked forward to a night on the Serengeti.

                We also anticipated the first night of Hanukkah. Who packed the menorah? I thought Lisa packed it; she thought I was in charge of all ritual matters. No menorah. But, I had my iPhone, and the iPhone had an app for a menorah. We gathered around the table, readied ourselves for the app to spring to life, and watched in hi-tech amazement as the menorah glowed with the light of the shamash and one light for the first night. Another push of a button and the music played to accompany us in singing the Hanukkah blessings! It was almost perfect and there was no way we could burn down the bungalow.

                Our Hanukkah on the Serengeti folded into stories on the deck about the children when they were little. Some made them laugh and others made them turn red. To Lisa and me, they were all good stories. When it grew cold, we moved into the big room for charades that lasted the rest of the night.

                Hanukkah began with only one small, virtual light; but even in the absence of candles and a menorah, we didn’t lose sight of the reason we were there. The winter holidays bring the older children home from college. And, while they still want to join us, we capture time with them by putting boundaries around the family for moments shared and special memories. It works for us.

                The second day we set out for a nearby town. Lisa and I dragged our children through antique stores and old town squares. We found an old rotary phone and showed them how we used to dial it. Even they recognized that anybody with a “9” in their number required “a lot of work.” They thought the antique Royal typewriter was a torture device from the Middle Ages. Compared to keyboards, today, they might be right. By the end of the street and the last antique store, we had worn them down. It was time for lunch and everyone welcomed a sit-down restaurant and full menu.

                Returning to the bungalow was not the highlight of the day, but we made it through another night and aimed for home when we awoke. We schlepped everything back to the vehicles taking care to walk our own familiar paths around the mud and through the grass. Before we left, we threw some feed over the deck railing for the pecking ostriches and took one last look through the binoculars at the animals as they showed up for work and moved to their familiar stations.

                Hanukkah on the Serengeti is an acquired taste. Hanukkah at home on the second night with memories we brought home with us are something we will always treasure. I know you have stories to share with your children and grandchildren. You never know when you’ll need them to fill the hours with laughter and ways to remember the blessings that endure season after season and year after year.

                From my family to yours, Happy Hanukkah and Shabbat Shalom.

 

Join us for Hanukkah Family Shabbat service at 6:30pm

December 23rd, Congregation Beth Israel Sanctuary.

Songs, lighting the menorah, latkes and fun for everyone.

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