American Kiddush

American Kiddush

I made my first American kiddush of this trip on Friday night.

I found my daughter’s prayer book in her backpack.

I found a pretty wine glass with a gold trim among my parents’ coffee mugs.

I found a big Kedem bottle in the storage cabinet among my father’s cans of tomato sauce and chickpeas.

And then I opened the siddur, picked up the glass filled to the rim, and recited kiddush.

And then I drank, but this American juice tasted so different than what I am used to from Israel.

It tasted like…apple juice. And then I looked at the bottle more closely and realized it tasted like apple juice because it was.


We finished lunch and we got out the Pepperidge Farm Cookies. Dark Chocolate Milanos. Yum.

Hadas passed out the cookies to Saba and Savta and everyone else, and then I noticed that the package in her hand read, “Cookies that Nourish the Soul.”


Cookies that fill the stomach. Yes.

Cookies that make the mouth water. Certainly.

Cookies that extend the waistline. No doubt.

But “Cookies that Nourish the Soul”? Not sure about that.


I spent so many years of my life yearning for something to fill the vacuum inside me.

I tried to fill the vacuum with great books.

I tried to fill the vacuum with good movies.

I tried to fill the vacuum with newspapers.

I tried to fill the vacuum with trips around the world.

I tried to fill the vacuum with food, too much of it.

It was only much later, after I’d discovered the Torah, Judaism, Hashem, that I understood that for so many years I’d been trying to make kiddush on apple juice.

No longer. Today the juice I bless is deep sapphire violet in honor of the One Who Creates the Fruit of the Vine, Amen.

photo credit: AndYaDontStop via photopin cc


  1. Beautiful as always, b”H!

  2. Almost Trashed

    This is what Alan found in the garbage one day:
    movie ticket stubs,
    crumpled candy wrappers,
    a partially eaten ham and cheese sandwich,
    yesterday’s newspaper,
    empty soda cans,
    crushed cigarette butts,
    and an old pair of tefillin.

    Then Alan suddenly understood why
    he had been desperately searching
    through garbage
    for years and years.
    He must have known,
    deep down,
    that along with the trash,
    what still had value, the most value,
    was also being thrown away.

    Alan stuck his hand into the garbage
    and pulled out the tefillin.
    for years and years,
    in turn,
    the tefillin searched desperately,
    found its way
    through the garbage piled high in Alan,
    and pulled out Aharon.

  3. Hadassah

    This is a beautiful article – you scored a bull’s eye with this point you made.

  4. very nice and well said.

  5. Shoshana

    Wow Chana Jenny, that was sooo beautiful! I love the way you get so vulnerable with us, the way you open up, it’s deeply moving and inspiring! May you have continued hatzlachah in all areas of your life.

  6. Nigunnim vs. Ragas

    beautiful poems from Chana Jenny and Bracha – made my day. I remember throwing out my old garbage on the 3rd floor window right into the garbage bin in Brooklyn…bulleye! old Indian music and some eastern Hindu poetry (this was about 40 years ago); although the sitar was beautiful in some ways,but the melodies took me to a faraway place called Depression filling my head with self doubt and confusion aka Amalek. As the years passed in place of the Indian ragas came soulful Chabad nigunnim beautiful, positively filling the void within me which nothing else can do so well.

  7. one of your most beautiful pieces yet- thanks, Chana Jenny!
    Has it been a long time since you went back to America? Are you revisiting childhood haunts?

    • JewishMom

      I hadn’t been back in two years–I try to come every summer but last year I was very pregnant and couldn’t get health insurance. I’ve mostly been hanging out around home and walking around my old neighborhood.

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