Dreidels & Hedgerows

Imagine you lived in a country where the ability to worship G-d was being outlawed, where your language and culture was disappearing. Where Preachers were jailed or killed for preaching the Bible or Tanakh? You think I’m talking about America, now? Maybe. Because football players are made to remove Crosses from their helmets, because for a time the Navy was told to remove the little Gideon Bibles from the rooms of their guest lodges? Because courts rule a Cross or the 10 commandments can’t be displayed? Maybe. But it’s not the first time in history. Let’s take a little trip back to Ireland.

In Ireland in the late 1600-till the later part of the 1700 there were a set of laws called “The Penal Laws”. The final bits were repealed in 1920. They affected Catholics and other dissidents. They entailed things like:

  • Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices (since 1607), Presbyterians were also barred from public office from 1707.
  • Ban on intermarriage with Protestants.
  • Presbyterian marriages were not legally recognized by the state
  • Catholics barred from owing firearms or serving in the armed forces.
  • Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5
  • ‘No person of the Catholic religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm’ upon pain of twenty pounds fine and three months in prison for every such offense.

And this is only part of them. But here’s a couple questions for you to mull over. WHY did they want to prohibit the Catholics from owning weapons? Who got to determine what the horse was worth?

The harsh rules gave rise to the hedgerow schools. Parents who were determined to save their children from being indoctrinated with beliefs other than what they held, and what they wanted their children to learn began to form and utilize “Hedgerow Schools”. This was forbidden because England wanted all the children to be taught the way they wanted them to be taught and what they wanted them to be taught. The Hedgerow Schools thrived. They were sometimes held in barns, homes but often in Hedgerows, with one child acting as a lookout. And they needed a lookout. If they were caught there were fines and imprisonment for all. There was a lot to lose. But the parents wanted their children to learn, the teachers wanted to teach and would travel around conducting these early forms of “home schooling” in defiance of the state mandated education.

Their language, culture and faith were under attack, and this is what they had to do to preserve it. They did it.

Now let’s go even further back in time. Achshav Annachnu b’Ysrael. NOW we are in Israel.

Let’s go back to the time of Antiochus, he liked to be called Epiphanes, although the Jews often called him Epimanes, the mad one. While Antiochus reigned Jews were forbidden to practice their religion, own a Torah, let alone read it, or observe festivals,or even the Sabbath. The people could not even admit they were Jewish. 40,000 were killed and 40,000 sold into slavery when Jerusalem was sacked and the temple was defiled. Animals that were forbidden to Jews were sacrificed on it’s alter. Now, during this time there were observant Jews and Hellanized Jews. Meaning Jews that were fine with what Antiochus was doing. Mainly urban upper crust, they wanted to dispense with Jewish law and adopt the Greek lifestyle. As I understand it for political and economic reasons.

And into this hot mess comes The Maccabees. I adore the Maccabees! It all started when Jews were ordered to offer sacrifices to Greek idols. A rural Jew know as Mattathias Maccabee refused. Not only did he refuse, but he killed the Hellenized Jew that stepped forward to offer a sacrifice to the idol in his name. Mattathias REFUSED to allow his name to be put on the offer of a sacrifice to an idol. From there the Maccabees took flight to the Judean wilderness. After Mattathias’ death about one year later in 166 BC, his son Judah Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty in guerrilla warfare, which at first was directed against Hellenizing Jews, of whom there were many. Judah Maccabee is noted as one of the greatest warriors in Jewish History, alongside David, Gideon and Joshua! So that’s how the Maccabean Revolt began. The Maccabees retook the city of Jerusalem. Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. A great miracle, nachon (right)?

Which brings us to this, a Dreidel/Savivon. Remember the Hedgerow Schools of Ireland? Well, while Jews were forbidden to study their Bible/Tanakh, forbidden to pass their faith onto their children they would go up into caves and hide. They would begin to teach the children, and they themselves would study. When they heard the Greek soldiers approaching they would put their Torah away and whip out the Savivon/Dreidel and begin to play. It could be a childrens game, or a gambling game. So it would appear to to the soldiers they were merely hiding and gambling. This is what they had to do to hold on to their faith, to pass it on to their children. To retain their culture and customs, they were willing to hide in caves, risk being caught by the soldiers and pay the penalty, death. Like the Irish, they found a way, and they did it.

If you look at what lengths the Irish and Jews went to back then to ensure the survival of their culture and religion it seems pretty sad now that some voices can be shut down by screeches of “racism” or “intolerance” or “hater”, simply for wanting to discuss an issue, preach from the Bible or Tanakh doesn’t it?

We are losing our culture so fast. When I was young, you saw rifles in racks in pick-up trucks everywhere. No one really thought anything of kids getting a .22 rifle. My Grandpa taught my cousin and me how to shoot his. My sisters and I all knew where Dad kept his revolver and shotgun. We KNEW if someone tried to break in and harm us either he or my Mom would do whatever needed to be done to keep the children they brought into this world safe. We knew not to mess with them when we put the clean clothes away, and we didn’t. It baffles me that I am more willing to protect my pet chickens (my little feather darlings) than some people are their flesh and blood children. I look at it as I bought the chickens, I’m responsible for them. I have no idea how they look at it, but I suspect they have bought into the culture shift of “no one is safe with a gun around”. If you get in trouble you just call the Police. Then they will come with guns and if you’re still alive, they’ll help you with their guns. Following their logic, I hope they forgo a smoke detector or fire extinguisher. After all, they can call the Fire Department and wait for them to come.

If you don’t think Hollywood has had an effect on this country, watch the following clip!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evSC-WZFw1c

Can you imagine Gwynth Paltrow or Ben Affleck singing something like this? NO! Ben Affleck still thinks ISIS is peaceful and no threat. Obviously, I see very few movies as I have no desire to put money in the pockets of people someone like Paltrow who thinks Mr. Obama should be given all the power he wants.

Now if a child’s picture is posted on Facebook proudly posing with a new gun it may merit a visit from the Police. Gnaw your pop tart into what a teacher decides is a gun shape and you would think the world was ending. Now we aren’t just talking about consequences of real crime, but consequences of “thought crime”.

This is an actual ad from 1961.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMoLdjFWd2s

Can you imagine such a toy being advertised today? I had a hard time finding a cap pistol when I wanted to start getting my horse used to gunfire.

For those of us raised in a culture of freedom, responsibility, and self-defense, the changes we see are not only disgusting, but alarming. Think about what you can do, to preserve the culture. To recognize the threats, and push back. I used to work gun shows with a man who gave out pocket copies of “The Citizens Rule Book”. It had the Bill of Rights, a Jury Handbook and The Constitution. On the back is a warning, “This Document May Be Hazardous To Bad Laws.” and II Chronicles 7:14.

If My people which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.

I personally carry a Dreidel/Savivon in my purse. All the time. It reminds me to be vigilant and committed to doing everything I can to ensure freedom.

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4 thoughts on “Dreidels & Hedgerows”

  1. Beautiful, thoughtful piece, Sheila. You touched my Irish heart and helped me understand why I so often feel a connection between my ancestors’ history and the trials and triumphs of the Jewish people.

    1. Dreidel/Savivon is like top. The term Dreidel is more Yiddish, Savivon is the Hebrew way of saying the same item. As I said in the last line “It reminds me to be vigilant and committed to doing everything I can to ensure freedom.” Every time I hunt through my purse to find something, I see that little green Savivon, and I’m reminded to never think “ah well, it will be ok. I don’t need to do anything.” I think the day after this column came out the news broke that Pastors in Texas had been ordered to turn in their sermons to the Mayor for review. No word if the same was required of Mosques. In America, Pastors have to have their sermons approved by a Mayor? SERIOUSLY? Thankfully Todd Starnes broke the news, and it went like wildfire and the push back of this abuse of power was hard and fast. THAT is how we need to respond to EVERY abuse of power. And it just took a lot of folks suiting up and fighting the battle. Talking about it with others. It was a perfect point to this column. Our culture is under attack. Make no mistake about it.

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