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  • I am one churned up Jew. The news of the hate shootings in France...Most recently at the Jewish school in Toulouse, the shooter killing three children and an adult teacher,--a rabbi, a three-year old among them...hate. Hate in a blaze of gunfire, and jumping to death, finally.

    Let me offer to the Cowbird community a modest photograph I took last December in our kitchen at Hannukah. My husband D. is lighting the candles. D. is not Jewish. I am a Jew who is hardly observant by any stretch of the imagination. But we fell into doing a few rituals, and we like it. D. learned to sing the Bruchas,--the blessings--with me, in Hebrew.

    This year, unexpectedly, he came home one day with a new menorah for me. For us. We had been using a nifty modern one with sharp abstract edges. The new one is more simple, more curved as in olden days, more feminine, pewter. I wept when he gave it to me.

    Well, and here are D.'s hands. And here is the light.

    The haters hide in the dark corners.

    Hate hates the new, hate hates mixing, hate hates ambiguity, uncertainty, the liminal places, shades of inter-being. Hate, tragically, is busy hating peoples and situations which stopped being clear-cut, eons ago. (If they ever really were.)

    My Japanese ex brother-in-law, my Catholic-Ojibway ex brother-in-law, my Chinese widowed sister-in-law, hate hates it when we Jews love outside our supposed borders.

    Hate hates the light in a mixed marriage. Hate hates me.

    Hate hates that in our household, I, the Jew, do Christmas dinner-- my traditional leg of lamb with lots of garlic, olive oil, rosemary, lemon, and don't forget those sweet potatoes in the same pan! And my sauted pear salad. And Spanish Rioja wine. (Hate must hate that I love Spain.) And for dessert with Italian espresso, our locally made fabulous dark bittersweet choclate made in the nabe by our German chocolatier. Hate hates all that.

    Hate can't understand me saying to D., "Ah, honey, I'm so knackered from all this week and Christmas, I don't have the koyach to light the Hannukah candles."

    Hate hates my Protestant husband (who uses Yiddishisms all day--oh how hate hates that coloring outside the lines!) calling me into the kitchen, saying, "It's the eighth night, baby, we have to do the candles. We're down the home stretch." And leads me in the Brucha.

    Hate hates that my best girlfriend from childhood, a very observant Jew, married a North African from Tunis. Hate hates that my stepdaughter married a man from Paris, that my own son-in-law is a Parisian. Hate hates that this Jew has mishpoche in France. Hate hates my life. But I don't.

    I once said to D., during one of these hate affairs in the news, "You know when they come for me, they will come for you, too."

    "I know, baby," he said. "I know. Don't you know, we're together."

    Hate hates 'together.'

    Hate hates the light.

    Let us shine the light. Be prepared, but shine the light. Always shine the light. There is a choice, there are micro-choices, we are the sum of our light-dark choices.

    So today, for a moment, in a moment of memory: shine the light. We're together.
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