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The Sisterhood set up a special table in the Social Hall filled with special gift and decorating ideas, and members visited the Temple more frequently.

The event that stayed with me, even though I didn't attend it, was the Latke making. Latkes are potato pancakes, fried in oil – lots of oil. The men of the Temple are the cooks, and along with the cooking is a little beer drinking and fun. The latkes are then part of a special Hanukkah dinner and service. Every family brings their Menorah from home to be lit and used during the dinner prayer service.

In the days following the Latke making, the aroma of hot oil, and fried food permeate the Temple, especially the social hall and into the office where I worked. Even though I never attended one of the dinners, I could imagine the sight of the men cooking, laughing and preparing the latkes for their friends and family members.

The sense of smell stirs up memories and can take you by surprise. The smells of frying oil make me think of the Temple and its people. It brings a smile, but more importantly reminds me of the miracle of the oil in the story of Hanukkah.

My daughter and I were talking recently about how the smell of diesel fuel can trigger emotions that we aren't prepared for. My husband drove a large truck for plowing snow. He often came home smelling of diesel fuel. Recently, while working, I had a customer who had that same pungent odor on his clothes. As soon as I was close enough to take a whiff, it took my breath away. Memories of my husband came flooding back, more quickly than I was able to process them. I couldn't share the emotions with most people. My daughter understood. We mentioned to each other having almost the same experience, and even with all the busy-ness in our lives it bonded us more closely for that moment.

Savoring the bond of a collective memory is what Hanukkah, Christmas, or any other faith celebration is all about. May your memories, brought on by your senses, bless your holidays.

Reservoir of Memories

You build a reservoir
of memories for me,
and hold them until
I can use them.

I may not always want them
but there they are,
giving me a smile,
a tear,
a giggle
now and then.

In those memories
are the moments
of my life,
intertwined with others
that made me
who I am
today.

-Mary Boscaino

 

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