As I’ve shared before, I have been exploring my cultures that I found through 23 & Me and for a few weeks I’ve been searching for community Hanukkah events. Two organizations emailed me about the Center City Kehillah and I reached out to the sponsor. She was really kind, mentioned there were no GF options but I could bring my own, and she couldn’t wait to meet me.
A Kehillah is a gathering for Jewish communities. The Center City Kehillah is the community for Philadelphia Jews.
The event started at 5:15, but I arrived at 4pm to go to Sweet Freedom to get my GF goodies. I made it in time – they are closing the South Street location and will only be operating out of Bryn Mawr. I bought two Blondie’s and six oatmeal raisin cookies.
I made my way to Rittenhouse Square Park and those haters, that Christian hate group ran by someone convicted of fraud and got into a kerfuffle with last year, were there. I fought with a young man and said, “I don’t know how you can hate. Jesus didnt teach hate and while I’m not a Christian, I know he was all about love.” He distorted the message, said kind people can still go to hell, and I wished him peace and light. No use arguing with people who crave attention. What sad lives they must live.
The Hanukkah event was beautiful and amazing. I donated a coat and was handed a box of candles. I then walked around Rittenhouse Square Park and took festive photos, while listening to the band play.
I made my way back at 5:10 and met Dvorah. We were chatting and I told her about 23 & Me, what I’ve been doing and she said, “the percentage doesn’t matter. That doesn’t matter anyway! You are welcomed and you are always welcomed to our events.” That made my heart joyful. She is a Talmud scholar and I really enjoyed chatting with her. We had a lot in common, and before the kids started to sing, she saw her friend and joined her.
When children sing, it’s just so pure. The children led us, then we could join in. I remember these songs from elementary school and loved singing them each year. Again, singing made my heart happy.
I’m sorry if videos aren’t showing, I’m typing this from the app. I want to share with you two other videos: the speeches and the Menorah lighting.
The words on the back of the candles were the prayers. We began singing and there were some technical difficulties because of the wind.
That was so magical and I’m sure you could hear me after it was lit. Peaceful and beautiful. I met the Rabbi after, wished him a happy Hanukkah and we chatted for a bit. I’m grateful that he agreed to a photo and I love how the man I handed my phone to took a photo of us chatting too. 😂
I met Dvorah again, we gave each other hugs, and took a selfie. She added, “it’s great you’re learning. Don’t worry if you do something wrong, we are all learning. God gave us mouths to speak kindness, nothing else.” And that is the message of the season.
Before I left, I wished others happy Hanukkah and met the band. I met Ami and he gave me his CD as a Hanukkah gift. I’m grateful! I’m blessed this holiday season.
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to you and yours!