It is easy to feel out of it when I don’t recognize the stars gracing the magazine covers in the supermarket check-out line. It is easy to feel like a recent immigrant from another planet when I still prefer to receive my news from a print newspaper rather than online or from the host of a comedy show.
One more trend that I simply do not understand is people spending real money to buy virtual gifts online. But in an effort to move with the times, I have decided to do virtual holiday cooking for this year’s Jewish high holy days.
I don’t know whether I am actually busier than I have ever been, but I think I can do two of the following three things: getting my daughter’s wedding invitations out before the actual wedding date; preparing for October’s presentation of Holy Hebrew! before standing up to teach it in Dallas; or cooking my annual batch of mandlen in time to mail it to far-flung children. Guess which item is being dropped?
Since my eldest two girls spent their first Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) away from home, I have baked these traditional soup nuts (which bear no resemblance to their supermarket counterparts) and shipped them to whichever children who would not be joining us in person for holiday meals. At this point with sons-in-law and grandchildren expanding the ranks, the necessary quantity has increased while my cooking time has shrunk.
Modernity to the rescue! There is no longer a need to purchase ingredients and spend time kneading the dough and pre-heating the oil. No longer do I need to find packing containers or stand in line at the post office. All I need is a tech-savvy ten year old and I am able to send virtual mandlen not only to my children but to thousands of my closest friends.
So, it is with great relief that I cross one item off my to-do list which, quite frankly, gives me a fighting chance of meeting the other deadlines. Unfortunately, I know that it’s a cop-out and that the love and family tradition which the mandlen represent don’t easily fly through cyberspace. I’m going to optimistically pencil mandlen baking in before Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) but, for starters, I’ll add a prayer to my Rosh HaShana entreaties for another mandlen baking opportunity next year.