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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Chanukah Party

I went home, as I said. I think I did have a slight temperature, because I felt more comfortable when I took off my sweater. I napped for a bit, and then decided that I needed to eat something, so I had some kosher cup of ramen. It's light and salty enough that it settles the stomach, and I was actually hungry afterwards, so I finished the bagel I'd failed to eat earlier.

Jonathan came home from shiur (he took the week off to do a "Winter Week of Learning.") early and we decided I was well enough, so we took a cab to the party. This went fairly well - I did spend more time with a book he'd given me (great excuse, you know?) then socializing, and the food was semi-questionable, but I ate what I could trust. This part of his family, while strict on fleishigs if they keep kosher at all, eat non-kosher cheese. In fact, there were big lumps of cheese and crackers set out - lovely looking gruyere and cheddars. Too nice looking to possibly be kosher. *Sigh*.

The kids all loved our gifts (well, baby Ellie liked the wrapping paper more, but at fifteen months, what do you expect?) and my mother-in-law liked hers - I got her Le Crueset silicon spatulas. I actually got her two sets - I gave her the blue ones yesterday and she'll get the red ones next Sunday. (Folks, these are the most useful spatulas ever. I've had mine for over ten years now, and I use them to stirfry and saute and to make roux.) If she wants to hang them up, my father-in-law can easily drill holes in the wooden handles.

The party itself was somewhat subdued - several people were out of town because it was so late this year and they wanted to be in their winter home in Arizona, plus everyone was feeling sad because we'd just lost someone we'd all loved. My husband gave me a treif cookbook in her memory. (Rich Bayless's Everyday Mexican as it happens. Pure chance - Jonathan doesn't know from chefs.)

But there was also the reminder of good things - there is a baby due any day now, so there's possibly a bris in the future (they do not know what the sex is.) and there's certainly a celebration.

The only thing, besides the absences, that marred things for me was the candlelighting. Our hostess, who certainly should know better, had the three little boys do the lighting. Yes, this is adorable and they enjoyed it, *but*. They were all under bar mitzvah.

This comes under the idea of being "yotzei" on someone else. There are certain mitzvot that can be performed by one person on behalf of another - making kiddush on Shabbat or yom tov, or havdalah. Lighting Chanukah candles is one of them, so the group candlelighting we do at this party is fine halachically. However, and this is the kicker - the person performing the mitzvah must be of an equal or greater level of obligation.

Children under bar or bat mitzvah are NOT under any level of obligation at all. They should light (under adult supervision and with adult help) because it's fun and because it's important for education, so that when they reach twelve or thirteen they can do it with ease, but they are not required to do so.

So here was this big bunch of people, all singing the blessing together and assuming that they are no longer obligated to light. This produces two problems - 1. many of them might have lit at home except that they assumed it was now taken care of (granted, many would not have lit at all, so that doesn't make a difference) and 2. All of them said a blessing in vain, which is a problem all by itself. (I simply abstained, which no one noticed.) I did quietly tell my mother-in-law to light again when she got home, and why. The other Orthodox family presumably knew better, and didn't want to keep their son from taking part.

If the hostess weren't who she was, I'd have shrugged this off as ignorance, but she *isn't*. She was educated in day schools, and runs a synagogue. She's very serious about Judaism. She should have known better. (I don't know why she simply didn't set up another menorah, as she had a nice collection, and let the kids light one and adults light the other.) There was no point in making a fuss, so I didn't.

We lit when we got home,which wasn't much later than we'd have normally lit anyway. We just used the candle chanukiah because, honestly, it's easier to set up, and I was yotzei on Jonathan because we have an equal level of obligation.

I'm at work now - it's not as dead as it was. I'm feeling eh, but better than yesterday. As there were no phone messages, I'm assuming that no one called anyway.


In fact, there were big lumps of cheese and crackers set out - lovely looking gruyere and cheddars. Too nice looking to possibly be kosher.

You should visit Israel more often. Admittedly, it might be difficult to get really good cheeses that are BaDaTz or Mehadrin, but kosher is not much of a problem. Particularly not since the recent wave of French aliyah.

We should visit Israel more often stam.

But you guys get real cheeses? Cool!

Hard cheeses are a bit more challenging than soft cheeses (well, except for chedar type cheeses, and emmental type cheese, and a few others), but with sufficient time in advance, you can get just about any cheese you want.

Soft cheeses -- there are a wide array of camembert and "cheese in the style of cammembert" which are very good. Also, Gad dairy has started a line of things like mascarpone and ricotta which are reasonably good. Admittedly, I've not had the non-kosher versions, so I can't tell if they're as good.

Oh, and there's the middle eastern cheeses -- halumi, and labene, and kashkaval, and so on.

Suffice it to say, yes. All sorts of real cheese. My suspicion is that Montreal also has a similar array of kosher products -- a large chunk of the French Jewish population has moved there over the last few years, and they're not the sort of people to tolerate American Style Cheese Product, in general.

I'm glad it was mostly nice. I'm sorry about the problem with the lighting, especially as it would have been so easy to fix! (When I've been to Chanukah parties it's usually been BYOC (bring your own chanukiyah), so you could depend on others but don't have to.)

Interesting that both of you light. I let Motcha be yotzei me, just like in kiddush, in which I think we also both have an equal obligation.

That's the most common thing to do, but lighting's *fun*, so I want to do it.

As for kiddush - yes, it's doraita for men and women. Jonathan makes kiddush, though, most of time. Sometimes, if I haven't gone to synagogue that morning (which is often the case) and he's heard kiddush there, and I want to make it, I do. If I don't want to make it, he makes it for me. His obligation is less than mine, but it's permitted in this case.

On the other hand, I make motzi over the challah.

Correcting to be polite: After he's made kiddush, he doesn't have any obligation any more. It's the principle of yotza motzei -- even though he's fulfilled his obligations, he can still perform the action for people who haven't.

I make kiddush for myself most Shabbos mornings. I make it over coffee. It's halachically permissible to make kiddush with a shehakol, and I've gotta have my morning coffee.

2. All of them said a blessing in vain, which is a problem all by itself.

It might not have been quite that bad, as there was an educational component. In shul this past week the person called up to read the haftorah needed help with the brachot (even though he was reading them, he wasn't reading easily or well) and the person who ended up reading most of the haftorah for him* prompted him with corrected pronunciations.

*Person1 read (w/o tune) the first 4 or so p'sukim, person2 chanted (i.e. read w/tune) the rest except the last one, and then person1 read the last one.