Friday, March 28, 2008

Dear God, you like pancakes?

Every year I do something to celebrate my bombing anniversary. Some years I do festive Shabbat dinners. One year I had real party complete with alcohol, but without the loud music. (My friends were so pleasantly surprised that I actually served alcohol that they did not think to complain about the lack of music. But—hello—my party and my house…why should I not be able to hear?). Last year, I bought a bicycle. In short, I have yet to do anything that could be remotely classified as commemoration, contemplation or an expression of gratitude to G-d. My friends' annual rendition of "happy bombing anniversary to you—we're glad you're not dead" does not quite hit the sensitive note generally called for in a commemorative event. As for expressions of gratitude, I suppose one could argue that the bike acquisition was kind of like turning my face to the heavens and saying to G-d: "Yeah, well...bite me."

(Luckily, He has not taken me up on that yet, but then, I am going biking tomorrow. If I get hit by a Mack truck, we will all know why. Of course, I am hoping that the bemused good humor holds….)

To get back to, and perhaps even complete the subject, I suppose that this is all part of the attitude I have adopted towards my bombing, which can be summed up as: If you absolutely, positively must be in bombing (which we do not recommend, as it tends to fatal, or at least highly injurious), but anyway, if you MUST…you may as well have a good time with it.

As you might imagine, not everyone shares my views. Similar to my views on trauma, every once in a while these vast differences in world view result in my completely putting my foot in it. Take the conversation I had with my friend, Inna who was seriously injured in the July 2002 bombing at Hebrew University. Her one year-anniversary had just passed and (do not ask me how) we got on the subject of what she did to mark the date. Without thought, and in fact without even asking her what she had done, I jumped into my usual memorial-ceremony-bashing-shtick: how the ceremonies are stupid, how all of this self-conscious melodrama is stupid, how having a party is so much more fun and/or appropriate. Of course, not only was she not having a party, but she did go to a ceremony and furthermore, she found the ceremony to be very meaningful. I cannot remember how I got out of that one; I probably just mumbled something like "Oh-yes, but of course, Hebrew University would have one—you guys are an academic institution—and my bombing…hell, we are just a bunch of Kmart shoppers". She bought it, and she is still my friend. Or she did not buy it and is pretending to be my friend for the cookies? Wait…I will have to ask her about that…. Okay, just got off the phone. Inna reports that 1) she remembers the conversation, 2) she still goes to the annual ceremonies and 3) she is still my friend both for the cookies AND because she had already taken the trouble to put me through the exclusive "Inna's friends training course", in which one learns all sorts of useful skills, like how to push a wheelchair over gravel, up over curbs, up the stairs, etc. all without dumping Inna onto the ground. Israel is not exactly what one would call handicapped-accessible. From Inna's point of view, I may be something of an idiot, but I am a useful idiot. (Hi Inna!)

Anyway, the point of all this is that my sixth bombing anniversary is April 12. This year, after much reflection, I have decided that the time has come for me to adopt a more mature attitude toward the day, to allow G-d in, to incorporate Judaism into my celebration of this day. Therefore, this year, I am having a pancake party.

Now I realize that, for some of you, and in particular the Christian somes of you, the connection between "pancakes" and "Judiasm" or "G-d" might be somewhat unclear. Allow me to cast some light. Pesach (Passover) is coming. During Pesach, Jews are commanded to eat no chametz, or leavened bread. Typical Pesach preparations include house cleaning to downright obsessive levels in order to rid the house of anything currently chametz or possessed of the ability to become chametz in the future. For example, I have two bags of flour in my freezer. Flour is an essential ingredient in bread. The flour must be used before Pesach or I will have to throw it out. I have a bag of chocolate chips. Chocolate chips can be added to bread dough to make chocolate bread. I have chocolate ice-cream, which is commonly coupled with chocolate bread to make chocolate ice-cream sandwiches.

Ergo, chocolate chip pancakes with a side of chocolate ice cream=Pesach cleaning =religious observance. I hope that this clarifies matters.

Alternatively, I suppose that one could also interpret the pancakes as a hidden message to G-d. "Dear G-d, I am sorry for being such a snot. Please do not turn me into one of these while I am riding my bike. Thank you. Much love, Gila". But frankly, I would rather not.

(What, you thought I was going to say I was going to say "prayer service"? Nu, be'emet....)


sparrow said...

A Pancake Party! Wow, can I come too? Wait, I just need to book that 50 hour flight first.

Wishing you a wonderful chocolate and calorie overdose on the 12th.

Fern Chasida said...

A pancake party (or any other party for that matter) sounds like a fine way to both commemorate AND express gratitude. It may be more subtle and less in your face than prayers and heavy speeches, but showing that life continues and joyfully is the best revenge. And though I'm not a huge pancake fan, I'd love a side order of some ice cream. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Real men eat pancakes with apple sauce!

Anonymous said...

I was skeptical about the pancakes at first...but chocolate chip pancakes? Now THAT is a celebration of life. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

"Now I realise that, for some of you, and in particular the Christian somes of you, the connection ............."

Religion is the opium of the masses

Karl Marx
What about us Gila your overseas atheistic friends?

Welcome to the revolution!

Unknown said...

Now if you could get a hold of some real 100% pure maple syrup for those pancakes by April 12, that would be a minor miracle.

Jack Steiner said...

Pancakes sound good to me, almost as good as Jameel's waffles.

Anonymous said...

How did I know that either Jameel or Jack would make some sort of Waffle comment....

Anonymous said...

A pancake party sounds wonderful! April 12 is hubby's birthday and since it almost always falls just around Pesach he more or less never gets a party. One year I had pity on him and organized a bring-your-own-chametz party which sounds a bit similar to your pancake party. Not in the bombing-commemoration bit, but in the getting-rid-of-chametz-while having-a-good-time bit. :-)

Enjoy! And Lechayim! (in every meaning of the word).

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Drat! And *I* wanted to make the Jameel Waffle = Gila Pancake comment, but I guess it's just much more appropriate coming from Jack.

Baila said...

It sounds like you have all your bases covered.

And we all know G-d has a great sense of humor.

What is the appropriate thing to wish you on your anniversary, by the way?

Anonymous said...

The chocolate ice cream on the side is a very nice touch....

Anonymous said...

Ibant Obscurae

To-Night I saw three maidens on the beach,
Dark-robed descending to the sea,
So slow, so silent of all speach,
And visible to me
Only by that strange drift-light, dim,forlorn,
Of the sun's wreck and clashing surges born.
Each after other went,
And they were gathered to his breast-
It seemed to me a sacrament
Of some stern creed unblest;
As when to rocks, that cheerless girt the bay,
They bound thy holy limbs, Andromeda.

Thomas Edward Brown

marshymallow said...

Christians are all about pancakes - we're always having pancake meals on holidays, particularly around Easter and Shrove Tuesday

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Pancakes are so boring.

We all know that God prefers...

Unknown said...

"[My friends' annual rendition of "happy bombing anniversary to you—we're glad you're not dead" does not quite hit the sensitive note generally called for in a commemorative event]"

although, if you serve drinks to get rid of all the alcohol
(also Chametz) too,
it can add new meaning when your friends continue the chorus of:
" How bombed are you now? ;-)

May your getting rid of your Chametz also serve as getting rid of whatever Shrapnel problems are still left,

and may you go into a new anniversary year filled with happiness and fulfillment for all good things,
in a clearly visible revealed way,

LeChaim u-LeBracha

Anonymous said...