Teachings: Hanukkah

Hannukah before Perestroika

We are en route to Tula, home of the samovar and location of the Tolstoy estate. I am very excited to be going there, having been granted scholar’s rights to access the books in his library, a side benefit of the Hanukkah seminar for Jewish women and girls we have been requested to give there.

Reframing the Chanukkah Christmas Dilemma

A Creative Strategy involving a Passover Twist

When almost all your congregants raise their hands to the question "Do you have a Christmas tree up this season in your home?" it's quite unsettling for a rabbi. This happened to me back in 1989 in a rural pulpit. The Hanukkah-Christmas dilemma full-blown. What to do, if anything?

A creative program came to mind during a night of troubled dreams. The president of the congregation, ever a supporter of my tendency towards R&D on behalf of the Jewish future, organized everything perfectly to my specifications. And the congregants came, almost all of them.

What Is the Significance of the Hanukkah Menorah?

Note: This article first appeared in a publication of the 92nd St. Y.

   The menorah is mentioned 27 times in the Torah. Precise details of its construction are given when Moses is alone, on the mountaintop, listening to God and seeing the Architect’s vision [Ex: 25: 31-40]. The menorah becomes a symbol of this listening and holding of the Light.

Next Thanksgivukkah In 80K Years? Wrong!

The convergence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving is not quite as rare as some have claimed.

Some of our older readers have already celebrated Hanukkah on Thanksgiving, and our younger readers may do so again, despite widespread Internet hoaxes claiming this has never happened before, or that it will not do so for 79,811 years:

Thursday, Nov. 29, 1888           2nd Night

Eight Ideas for a Meaningful Hanukkah

Here are eight ways to make each night of Hanukkah more special and interactive with your friends and family, they also work for congregational events, please share on Facebook and further to help deepen the meaning of Hanukkah world-wide. 

1. Family History Night. One night of Hanukkah invite family of reference and/or preference to come over for candle lighting. Family of reference are the people we are related to by birth or adoption; family of preference are the close people we add to our lives to enhance our sense of expanded family. Be sure to have a video camera or tape recorder. Ask each person to come prepared to 

Eight Ideas for a Meaningful Hanukkah

Here are eight ways to make each night of Hanukkah more special and interactive with your friends and family, they also work for congregational events, please share on Facebook and further to help deepen the meaning of Hanukkah world-wide. 

1. Family History Night. One night of Hanukkah invite family of reference and/or preference to come over for candle lighting. Family of reference are the people we are related to by birth or adoption; family of preference are the close people we add to our lives to enhance our sense of expanded family. Be sure to have a video camera or tape recorder. Ask each person to come prepared to 

Reframing Hanukkah Gelt in Meaningful Ways

Here's a way the gift of the gelt  can be transformed: [money given as gifts on Hanukkah]

On one of the nights of Hanukkah open all of the tzedakah boxes in the house and count the money. You might also keep a tzedakah box on the counter by your desk at work, many caring people who come through the building will help to keep it brimming. Announce the total.

Reframing Hanukkah Gelt in Meaningful Ways

Here's a way the gift of the gelt  can be transformed: [money given as gifts on Hanukkah]

On one of the nights of Hanukkah open all of the tzedakah boxes in the house and count the money. You might also keep a tzedakah box on the counter by your desk at work, many caring people who come through the building will help to keep it brimming. Announce the total.

A Woman in a Tallis at the Kotel

Upon arriving at the baggage claim in Philadelphia's airport, the man beside me noticed I was holding a Jewish paper open to an article about the arrest of a woman wearing a tallis (prayer shawl) at the Kotel, (the “Wall”) in Jerusalem. The title of this article is the comment he made to me: “A woman in a tallis at the Kotel is like blowing out the Hanukkah candles.” Hoisting my suitcase off onto the baggage cart, I quoted the Iggeret HaKodesh (a Hassidic text) to him: "Whenever ahavat yisrael (love of all Jews) is in the hearts of the Jewish people, the heart of God, the Shechinah is, also healthy." [Epsitle 31] His family was waving and coming towards us, so he simply bowed his head slightly in acknowledgement, and we parted ways blessing each other to have a happy Hanukkah.