When I was growing up, today was a big holiday. Washington’s Birthday. (That’s true even though George was born on 11 February- before we normalized the calendar and the 11th under the old system became the 22nd under the system the US adopted in 1752, when George was already 20 years old.) And, we also had celebrated Lincoln’s Birthday ten days ago. (See my post from the 12th of February.)
It’s Black History Month. And, I wrote about Freedom House (1315 Duke Street, Alexandria) a year ago. During its 33 years of operation, some 1 million slaves were sold or traded from this building. Interestingly, these actions occurred even when Alexandria was part of the District of Columbia- Alexandria rejoined the Commonwealth in 1847, after 58 years of Federal Control. (The slave house actually operated from 1828 to 1861; that operation ceased when the US government forcibly took control over the city of Alexandria at the start of the Civil War.)
I was reading the Washington Post the other day , when it was discussing a study group that spent 22 years reviewing the Tora (the Five Books of Moses), under the direction of their rabbi, Rav Stuart Weinblatt. Which reminded me of what actions a group of us from my old synagogue accomplished.
It’s hard to believe that just 1 year ago, I (and about 149 of my fellow congregants) were traipsing about Selma, Alabama. In an essay to recreate for ourselves and our children the march from Selma to Montgomery that happened some (now) 53 years ago.
Oh, gracious! I thought it was just me. But, now I’m backed by science!
You see, I always thought it was just because I was Jewish that my nerves were on edge with the incessant Christmas music playing everywhere comes the day after Thanksgiving (or even earlier). I was sure it was because when I grew up in Forest City, where all the neighbors’ homes had speakers blaring out songs that I really never learned. Or, when I walked into a store, only to be greeted not by a salesperson, but by the sounds of a Christmas Carol or ditty. And, no, I didn’t care if the songs were written by Jewish folks or not.
No, it’s not my holiday. Nor have I ever considered celebrating.
But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own family traditions revolving about this day. For years, I’d haul my kids to the local Shoneys. One of the few places open on Christmas morning. (By the time my youngest [son] turned 9 [by then, he was the only child in the home], the Shoneys had closed. So, we switched to a local [hole-in-the-wall] diner, which also had a Santa and a brunch.) Where we’d enjoy a wonderful brunch and watch the store Santa visit all the little kids. Which brought joy to mine, seeing the happiness in others.