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The Eight Days of Hanukkah – Day 2

Guilt vs. Gelt

Jewish mothers are so often satirized as being the quintessential sources of guilt. For example,

“So? 25 years I’ve raised you and you can’t yet find a nice Jewish girl and make me a grandmother?”


“No.  I’m alright.  I don’t need a sweater.  Even when I visit,  you can keep your house at 55 degrees to save energy if you like.”

My mother is nothing like that.  She’s an angel.  I mean that.   But when I was a kid, I thought there was such a thing as Hanukkah guilt. Yes, I was a confused child.   It reminds me of that Rugrats episode where the grandfather mentioned the MEANING of Hanukkah and the children thought he said the MEANY of Hanukkah.  It’s really quite a funny episode.

As a seven year old, I was keenly aware that my non-Jewish friends celebrated Christmas with trees, lights, Santa, and lots of really cool presents.  I asked Dad what gifts I might get for Hanukkah and he said, “Hanukkah gelt.”  He said GELT and I heard GUILT.  Talk about disappointment.  I was not very happy with that answer and became even more envious of my Christmas celebrating friends.

One night at dinner, Dad pulled out a wad of bills and gave it to me as my Hanukkah GELT.  First of all, let explain that two one dollar bills is like a wad if you’re seven years old in the pre-inflationary economy of the early seventies.  And second, my father spoke Yiddish;  not fluently, but enough that he could sound like Billy Crystal’s grandfather character.  And gelt, in Yiddish, means money.

Don’t forget, I’m going to somehow tie all this in with the theme of the web site which is triathlon.  But that’s for day eight.  See you tomorrow.

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