Underlying photo by Alleko on iStock


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I know that Yom Kippur isn't exactly known as one of the "fun" Jewish holidays, but every year I can't help but laugh at what's easily my number one Yom Kippur memory.


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That is what makes memories … memorable. And, finding something to laugh at on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is probably the most important and solemn Jewish holiday, would be memorable.


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I can't believe you're not even curious what it is!?


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You know I love to "connect the dots", and all you had to say was Yom Kippur, fun, and memory. Obviously, it was when Rabbi Scott asked us to speak before his congregation on Yom Kippur.


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Well, I still find it surreal that we were asked to speak about money on one of the High Holy Days. And that we titled our presentation, "Oy Vey, You Want To Talk About Money?"


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The day is about reflection, making fundamental changes – or at least adjustments – and trying to become a better person. And, just because it is a spiritual journey, there is no reason you cannot make learning fun.


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True. I remember the time Rabbi Scott put a piece of aluminum foil in the children's Yom Kippur service program to help them understand that Yom Kippur's a day for reflection. But even you must admit that making a congregation laugh about money on a religious holiday is a bit much.


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But, memorable. A few years later, I met someone that attended that service, and he said he's never forgotten it.


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For the content or all the food analogies?! I can remember we started by saying how we just wanted to give everyone some food-for-thought and then saying, "Oops, since Yom Kippur's a day of fasting, maybe bringing up the subject of food wasn't such a good idea."


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Of course, it did not stop us from doing it, again and again.


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How else could we explain our unexpected journey into personal finance without mentioning it started at our first speaking engagement … which was at a Jewish Federation breakfast?


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Or, how our detour into criminal justice started with me meeting with the chaplain at a men's prison? But I knew it was meant to be when she told me they had the only kosher kitchen in the Texas prison system.


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And each time we looked at each other and then the audience, and we all laughed! With each mention of food, it just got funnier and funnier. But there was no way to avoid it.


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I know. How could you tell the story about realizing all the money you were mindlessly spending at Jamba Juice without mentioning your almost-daily smoothies? Or, how you went grocery shopping at Whole Foods because it was convenient but not cost-effective. Anyway, until that day, I never realized how so many of our stories have to do with food.


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I think the highlight was toward the end when I was explaining how I felt overwhelmed trying to tackle personal finance. That at times, things seemed insurmountable, and then you told me … it's like eating an elephant, you can do it, just one bite at a time. And everyone started laughing again.


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On any other day, I doubt that analogy would make you think of food. But, on Yom Kippur, and especially since we were presenting after at least 15 hours of fasting, everything makes you hungry


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I guess it's like being so tired that you get slap happy. But I never thought a day of atonement and reflection could end up becoming a day of laughter.


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On Yom Kippur, we wish people an "easy fast" or a "meaningful fast" … and if a bit of laughter, even if not intended, helps, what is wrong with that?


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Good point. For that matter, you don't need to be Jewish to take a day, or even just an hour, to stop, to think, and to improve.


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No fasting required.

So, when Black mentions Redhead Appreciation Day, I know it’s related to Red & Black and not her being “nice” and giving me a day off (or telling me that she appreciates me). And when she asks, “What is it like to be a redhead, Red?” part of me wants to reply, “What’s it like not to be a redhead?” because, for my entire life, I’ve been “Red.” (There’s a story there, but I’ll get to it later.) The honest answer is, well, I never thought about it, until now …

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Photograph of Jackie Aguilera courtesy of Jackie Aguilera


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I have a confession to make, which I’m sure will make you roll your eyes.


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Interesting caveat and probably true.


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Every time we meet with Jackie (Aguilera) from the Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy and hear what she’s doing in the world of adult education, I feel like I’m back in school and having to take copious notes.


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I am more than happy to send you “homework assignments” as I come across relevant articles and research.


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Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to taking notes. But that does explain why you’re so knowledgeable about literacy.


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But, reading information is very different from being at the forefront of literacy innovation. And, if we had never met Jackie, I never would have realized how literacy is more than the dictionary definition, and encompasses more than just reading and writing.
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Photo by Lynda Sanchez on Unsplash

As Black knows, going to the movies is my escape (and even sends me research about it), but she also knows that it’s all about the popcorn. So, it should come as no surprise that’s how I like to celebrate my birthday. And even though she’s not one to “celebrate” birthdays, she does indulge (or maybe the word is “tolerate”) people who do, and whenever my birthday falls on a workday, she gives me “permission” to escape to the movies.

Which is what I’m doing today on my milestone birthday, and although the “rerun” part of this post (below the line) was from last November, some things never change. Except … this year, as I’ll be waiting for the movie to start (and waiting to start eating my popcorn as I refuse to eat even a single kernel beforehand), I know I’ll be wondering, “How did I get to be 60 years old?!”

It's a running joke in my family that the only reason I go to the movies is for the popcorn. And while that isn't 100% true, it's probably close as I can't remember a time when popcorn wasn't an essential part of the experience. (I'll admit I couldn't believe it when I recently read that South Korea's banning movie popcorn in the theater!)

I can still remember seeing "Young Frankenstein" when it was first released (in 1974) at the Massapequa movie theater, which was literally at one end of an old strip shopping center. It bore no resemblance to the multiplex cinemas of today, and the concession stand offerings were very limited. It was dark and a bit dingy, and the seats were old and uncomfortable. But I didn't care because the popcorn made up for it. And while I sat through multiple showings of the movie (hey, it's still one of my favorites), I was grateful that my dad had given me enough money to get multiple popcorns as in those days, there was no such thing as the big bucket, let alone free refills.

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