Friday, December 7, 2007



Happy Channukah from Xi’an to all who celebrate. So far we are enjoying the holiday very much, although we always miss being with friends and family at these times. We made our channukiah out of playdough this year but had to work a little harder to find candles. Finally found a wide assortment at a Buddhist temple not far from our home. We bought way too many (and the candles last for much too long) so we have been cutting them in half. For our shamash (the candle that is used to light all the others) we are using a lotus flower – we actually bought seven other shamashes, but the lotus flower seems to never burn out . . just like the original candles. A miracle! And we really can’t leave it burning all night, so it’s being reused. We're going to have lots of candles to burn after Channukah.

Our channukah is obviously shaped as a map of Israel - some of you cartographers out there will notice that we included the Golan Heights. We had some extra playdough so decided to take some liberties. Could have been much worse. Political sensitivities anyone?

Latkes have been interesting – I’m missing my food processor immensely and have visions of sitting at my grandmother’s table in Montreal as she grates potato after potato after potato, all by hand. Not as easy as it looks. And the onions have been murder. Yoni and I will have to have an extra session with our new massage therapist. He's a guy who specializes in a variety of Chinese medicines and massage therapy - has been coming to our home once a week and helping us with a variety of aches and pains on our increasingly old bones. And I won't tell you all how much he charges because you will be too jealous!!!

And just when I was getting thoroughly exhausted from grating potatoes – another miracle . . . a package arrived in record time from Israel with two boxes of latke mix. Just add water and fry. With four more days of Channukah to go I can just say Hallelujah!

We had some friends over the first night of Channukah – I’ve included a picture taken in our living room. We'll do a blog taking you through our home another time. In the picture there’s an Israeli couple we have befriended named Ada and Yaakov – they’re retired folk who spend half their year here in Xi’an and the other half in Israel; Tom – an Israeli-British hybrid here running an English school for kids; Diego from Brazil who’s here at our university teaching Spanish and Portuguese; and Circan from Turkey who’s here studying Chinese. Very glad we found some comrades to sing with on this holiday.

I went into the boys school and did my usual “Channukah shtick” for Noam's class. Even found some chocolate coins to bring in for the kids. They have Chinese symbols on them and are MUCH thicker than the chocolate coins we usually give out. But Tal decided that he’s too old to have his mother hanging out in his class so he prepared his own Channukah power point and gave a presentation to his class. But he was still willing to accept latkes and applesauce brought in by his mother. No green apples to be found so my applesauce is not tart enough and sour cream is nowhere to be found.

That's all for now folks. Much love and a Happy Channukah,