The Jew Who Loved Christmas and Bubbe’s Chopped Liver and Onions
I am a Jew. I also love Christmas. It’s silly right? Because everybody knows that Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, they celebrate Hanukkah. But let me explain. When I was 16 I converted to Judaism. The terms, “Jew-By-Choice” and “Convert” were tossed around as labels to describe me. Now if you know me, you know that I hate labels. So despite having taken a year-long course in Jewish history and ethics, and then taking a written examination to demonstrate my knowledge… I was still viewed as being different. I was washed anew in the mikvah and held the Torah in my arms as I pledged to live a Jewish life. Yet still, I felt different from all of the other Jewish teens. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what it was that bothered me so much.
Was it the sideways glances that I’d receive at the oneg gatherings in temple? People would look at me with my light complexion and curly, blonde/brown hair and automatically assume I wasn’t Jewish. Or maybe it was my last name, which definitely wasn’t Jewish! For years I struggled against trying to assume my identity and religion. Who am I? What do I believe? What is my purpose? Why do others judge me? Finally I reached a place of peace. I understood that it’s okay to question who we are, and what we believe in. It’s okay to wear, say, or do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t harm others. And that is when I admitted it to myself: I love Christmas.
Before my parents divorced and I lived in a new Jewish world, I lived with my mother. She put Martha Stewart to shame when it came to Christmas. The whole house turned into a winter wonderland right after Thanksgiving ended. I have such fond memories of roasted meats, twinkling lights, glittering ornaments, merry carols, and the scent of cinnamon and gingerbread. Her love of the holidays became rooted into my DNA and thus, I love everything about Christmas! Having chosen a faith that doesn’t believe in or celebrate Christmas was hard. For a while I felt like I was missing a part of myself. I’d see the world blanket itself in “Ho ho ho” ‘s and “deck the halls” and I was left with Chinese takeout and gelt. But, in learning to accept who I am, I began to embrace all of me.
I can celebrate shabbos and put up a tree. I can go to temple and listen to Buddhist meditations. I can eat brisket, gefilte fish, speak Yiddish, and go caroling to my heart’s content. I can be Jewish and celebrate Christmas! And maybe…. just maybe… if we judged ourselves (and others) a little less, and accepted things a little bit more… maybe then we could have peace on Earth. Enjoy this traditional Jewish recipe everyone and have a beautiful day! ❤
Bubbe’s Chopped Liver and Matzah
Yields: 12 servings
- 2 pounds chicken livers, rinsed and trimmed
- 2 eggs
- 3 onions
- 1 quart water
- 2 cubes chicken bouillon
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the liver, whole eggs and one onion into a large saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil and stir in the chicken bouillon cubes. Simmer for one hour, then allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Chop one onion and fry in the oil until tender. Chop the third onion and set aside. When the liver has cooled, grind together the liver, hard-cooked eggs and the three onions. Season with salt and pepper. Chill before serving. Serve with Matzah (giant Jewish unleavened bread/crackers).