Hamsa Hamsa and my birthday

I am not a person who typically requires a great deal on my birthday. While obviously birthdays are EXTREMELY important to have, every year I like to just be thankful that I am gifted another year on this earth near my loved ones. Anything else in addition to that truly is the cherry on my cake.

This year, actually next week, I turn double digits. I am quite fond of the number of my age itself; 55!

When sitting with friends at Shabbat dinner the other night, they sang (an early) Happy Birthday to me and when I spoke of my age, one friend immediately responded saying to me, ‘Hamsa Hamsa.’ (Toda raba, M.) I had not realized this point and now I am even more pleased and am embracing the age of 55.

I began to think about the Hamsa, the small one I have hanging around my neck 24/7 and the many Hamsa ornaments I have acquired and have hanging in every corner of my home. I realized I have a sort of relationship with this notion of the Hamsa.

I did some digging into all I have learned about the Hamsa and thought about it fondly. THE HAMSA, meaning five in Arabic, the hand shaped is a talisman that can be hung on a wall, worn as a pendant or put on a key ring to ward off the evil eye. Originating in Saudi Arabia, it represents the hand of Fatima, daughter of the prophet Mohamed. She is revered by Muslims who believe she can protect them from misfortune. This talisman was adapted by Middle Eastern Jews and was gradually accepted by Jews of different origins.

I have learned well that the most important necessities for a good life are LOVE, LOYALTY and DEVOTION. To have found that in your life and to give a lot of that to others is incredibly fulfilling. For me there is no greater gift than to be able to give. To give yourself, your love and your time. To do this without ever thinking to get it back in return is a very unique position to be in. Fortunately I have embraced the opportunity to indulge in this activity.

I have also learned to NEVER say NEVER; and for lots of reasons. Most significantly are in matters of LOVE, LOYALTY and DEVOTION. It can be unfortunate if you believed you would NEVER be deceived or dismissed by the people closest to you. With these experiences that may occur with family and friends comes clarity and truth; and there is so much to be said for a clear mind and for the TRUTH in life, (that itself is another gift.) It has been important to me in my life to maintain respect for myself and with that I naturally accept truth in my life, whether it is a good truth or a hurtful one. There is no point in ignoring the truths in our lives because from a young age I was taught that the TRUTH always comes out. Without self respect I believe we may just ignore reality and lose focus. It is not easy to accept those situations but is there really a choice once the truth reveals itself…………

We live and learn as they say. On another topic, I have realized that many things and situations in life do not stay the same. And if you are like me, perhaps change does not come easy. BUT I have EXPERIENCED and I’ve been told from my Rabbi that change is very often for the better. Therefore if changes present themselves, perhaps accepting them rather than opposing them can bring us pleasant surprises.

A wise man and the beloved father of my Rabbi, Rabbi Meshulem Halevi Jungreis, had an abundance of wisdom to share. Recently some of his wisest advice was brought to my attention. Among His teachings are:

“When you have no reason to smile, put a smile on your face and God will give you a reason to smile.”


“A long life is not good enough, but a good life is long enough.”

Another wise man, Abraham Lincoln once said: “LIVE A GOOD LIFE, and in the end, it’s not the years in a life, it’s the life in the years.”

Do you like this advice as much as I do? I am loving the way it feels to just smile!

Here’s to another 55 years, pretty please with sugar on top, and Bzrat ha Shem, wake me up everyday and allow me to just smile!!!!


About the Author
Allyson Altit is from New York. She has worked in the travel industry for over 30 years as a leisure specialist. Her area of expertise is in European destinations and Israel. She has been involved with charity work for the Hadassah organization as well. In 2009 she graduated from Queens College majoring in Jewish studies. She has just completed writing her first novel...
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