Public Menorah lightings

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all! On Sunday night (the first night of Hanukkah) I went to the public lighting of the world’s largest menorah. It was a 32 foot, 4000 pound steel candelabra with gas lamps in a windproof casing. It was designed by Israeli artist Yaakov Agam, inspired by the original menorah that was in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago. Mayor Bloomberg lit the wicks, symbolizing the first of eight nights of the Jewish festival of lights. There was quite a crowd there on the corner of 59th St. and 5th Ave., right near Central Park. This menorah, and about 700 more located all over the world are organized by the Chabad organization and this year have the added significance of standing strong in honor of those who were killed in the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Another popular New York City public lighting took place on Sunday night at Washington Square Park.

The other “world’s largest menorah” is lighting up Washington, D.C. It’s located on the Ellipse, just across from the White House.

Other large scale lightings are taking place all week long in Santa Monica, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Chicago, as well as in 732 more cities in 47 countries worldwide.

Check out this youtube video

from the Chabad of Malibu about their candle lighting initiative. And if you’re curious as to HOW to attend a public lighting, ehow’s got you covered.

Happy holidays!
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Thanksgiving in Virginia

The other great colonial communities (other than the one in Plymouth, that is), was in Virginia. Jamestown and Yorktown were two of the first settlements in the New Country, established as early as 1607. For an authentic Thanksgiving experience, head out to these famous landmarks in Virginia. (Quiz your kids—they should definitely be able to talk about these!)

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Happy Thanksgiving Month!

In my classroom, November is Turkey Month. Why celebrate a fun and meaningful holiday for only one day when you can celebrate all month long? Besides spending a lot of time focusing on what we are thankful for, collecting charity for those less fortunate than we are, and learning about (and cooking) traditional American and Native American food, we spend a lot of time talking about the first settlers, American history, and early American geography. I simulate a Mayflower journey to America and we travel around the East Coast delving into all these subjects. Here are the highlights from our historical journey through New England. Ask your kids—they should be able to tell you the early significance of all these places (that is, if they have a teacher as good as I am!):

Happy Turkey Month!
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Malls in the Atlanta area

I usually get all my back to school shopping done with well before school actually starts. And I THOUGHT I had done so this year as well, but apparently, as the kids tell me, especially my oldest, I did it all wrong. School supplies are a bit off, shoes are “so last year” and clothes are just “off”. I was getting bored of the mall near our house, so did a little research to compile a list of all the malls in the area (as far as Macon and Augusta). So if you still need to do some back to school shopping, almost one month into the action already, you can check some of these out:

Those are what I came up with, but feel free to add to the list! Happy shopping! (And wish me luck this time…)
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Asthma Capitals of the U.S.

My 4 year old son has mild asthma and I was looking something up on WebMD when I came across this article about the worst asthma cities in the country. The article takes into account various different factors, including asthma prevalence, poverty levels, asthma death rates, air quality, and pollen scores. This report was put out by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Of course Atlanta made it to the list (where we live now), and Knoxville, Tennessee is the number one worst place for asthma and Memphis is number five, and those aren’t too far from where we used to live. So now I feel a little guilty that maybe I’m perpetuating Justin’s condition by living in the wrong spots… Maybe next we’ll move to Alaska. Here’s the list:

10. Greensboro, North Carolina (from No. 8 in 2007)
9. St. Louis, Missouri (from No. 28 in 2007)
8. Greenville, South Carolina (from No. 34 in 2007)
7. Charlotte, North Carolina (from No. 14 in 2007)
6. Allentown, Pennsylvania (from No. 16 in 2007)
5. Memphis, Tennessee (from No. 30 in 2007)
4. Atlanta, Georgia (from No. 1 in 2007 – an improvement!)
3. Milwaukee, Wisconsin (from No. 7 in 2007)
2. Tulsa, Oklahoma (from No. 25 in 2007)
1. Knoxville, Tennessee (from No. 4 in 2007)

Other cities from the Top Ten last year include
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Raleigh, North Carolina, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

The saddest part of this study is that a leading cause of death in asthma patients is the lack of health care in poverty stricken areas. Pollution is a huge factor, but with proper health care, asthma can be controlled.

Boston for the Boys: Good father-son museums

Just to continue the Boston conversation that Sharon has started…
I think of these things as “guy things” but that could just be because I’ve been to Boston a number of times to visit my father who always insists on taking me to one of these museums (among many others):

Summer exhibits at New York City museums

The best part about being a teacher is the vacation time. And since my wife and I both teach, summer vacation is the time to really relax, spend quality time together, travel, and do all the things in New York City that we’re always meaning to do during the year but don’t get around to…mainly, going to museums. Here’s a great list of summer exhibits at some of the best museums in the city:

  • Rococo: The Continuing Curve 1730–2008 at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (through July 6)
  • Double Album: Daniel Guzman and Steven Shearer at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (through July 6)
  • “A Railroad Reborn: Metro-North at 25” at the NY Transit Museum gallery annex at Grand Central Terminal (extended through July 6)
  • Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing at MoMA (through July 7)
  • ©MURAKAMI at Brooklyn Museum () (through July 13)
  • Sex in Design/Design in Sex at the Museum of Sex (extended through July 13)
  • First Under Heaven: Korean Ceramics from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection at the Asia Society and Museum (extended through July 20)
  • Multiplex: Directions in Art, 1970 to Now at MoMA (through July 28 )
  • Projects 87: Sigalit Landau opens at MoMA (through July 28 )
  • “Warhol’s Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered” at the Jewish Museum (through Aug. 3)
  • Inspired by Kashmir: Works by New York City Students at the Asia Society (through Aug. 3)
  • Ardeshir Mohassess: Art and Satire in Iran and Vietnam: A Memorial Work by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba exhibitions at the Asia Society (through Aug. 3)
  • Making It Together exhibition inspired by the ‘70s Feminist Movement at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (through Aug. 4)
  • French Founding Father: Lafayette’s Return to Washington’s America at the New York Historical Society (through Aug. 10)
  • Click! A Crowd Curated Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum (through Aug. 10)
  • From Another Shore: Recent Icelandic Art, including works from Olga Bergmann, Hildur Bjarnadóttir, Margrét H. Blöndal and Ólafur Elíasson, at The Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America (through Aug. 15)
  • Woven Splendor from Timbuktu to Tibet: Exotic Rugs and Textiles from New York Collectors at the New York Historical Society (through Aug. 17)
  • Orientalism in New York opens at the New York Historical Society (through Aug. 17)
  • Eminent Domain: Contemporary Photography and the City at the NY Public Library (through Aug. 29)
  • Mother Goose in an Air-Ship: McLoughlin Bros. 19th Century Children’s Books from the Liman Collection at the Brooklyn Historical Society (through August)
  • Bedford Stuyvesant: Neighborhood of Change at the Brooklyn Historical Society (through Aug. 31)
  • Philip Guston: Works on Paper at the Morgan Library and Museum (through Aug. 31)
  • Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Sept. 1)
  • Wiener Werkstatte Jewelry exhibition at the Neue Galerie – Museum for German and Austrian Art (extended through Sept. 1)
  • Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Sept. 1)
  • “Radiance from the Rain Forest: Featherwork in Ancient Peru” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art () (through Sept. 1)
  • “Multiple Choice: From Sample to Product” at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (extended through Sept. 1)
  • “Arbus/Avedon/Model: Selections from the Bank of America LaSalle Collection,” “Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan,” and “Bill Wood’s Business” at the International Center of Photography (through Sept. 7)
  • 183rd Annual Invitational Exhibition of Conemporary Art at the at the National Academy Museum (through Sept. 7)
  • Asa Ames: Occupation Sculpturing at the American Folk Art Museum () (through Sept. 14)
  • Jazz Score at MoMA (through Sept. 15)
  • Dalí: Painting and Film at MoMA (through Sept. 15)
  • Dargerism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger at the American Folk Art Museum (through September 21)
  • New York Fast Forward: Neil Denari Builds on the High Line opens at the Museum of the City of New York (through Sept. 21)
  • “Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976″ at the Jewish Museum (through Sept 21)
  • Louise Bourgeois full-career retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum (through September 28 )
  • Red, Black, and Gold at the Rubin Museum of Art (through Oct. 13)
  • NYC Waterfalls in the East River (through Oct. 13)

(thank you newyorkology for a great list!)

(P.S. Check out my post Free NYC (Things to Do and See) for more ideas of ways to spend time (but not money) in New York City this summer.)