We Didn’t Reach Out to Antiochus. We Organized Against Him.

This Saturday night begins Hanukkah, our Jewish winter celebration. Later in the Gregorian year than normal, according to the lunar calendar Hanukkah falls the same time every year—a week that runs over the new moon closest to the solstice, the longest and darkest night of the year. Hanukkah is our tradition’s contribution to these wintertime …

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A Very Pagan Hanukkah

  Today is the fifth day of Hanukkah if you are reading this after sunset (which you probably are, since I didn’t post it until after sunset.) This is a special day of this eight day holiday because it is the first day in which we have more light than darkness. When we light the …

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Pray, But Light the Candles Too

With Hanukkah beginning this Sunday night, it is time to retell the traditional story of Hanukkah, how a small band of Jewish rebels rose up against the oppressive regime of King Antiochus, the Greek ruler who imposed severe restrictions on the Jewish community and Jewish practice, even desecrating the holy Temple in Jerusalem. Once the …

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Hanukkah and Power: #BlackLivesMatter

Like with much of our religious traditions and sacred stories (or really anything for that matter) what we learn as kids is revealed to be much more complicated as adults. Take the Hanukkah story for example. The general narrative is of the Maccabees, a Jewish family which lead a revolt against the oppressive tactics of …

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Investing in Oil, Lighting our Future

We are perhaps all familiar with the story of Hanukkah, which begins this coming Tuesday night. In the second century BCE, the Jewish community was under the tyrannical rule of the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV, who imposed a series of harsh anti-Jewish measures on the population. He forbade the practice of Judaism, imposed Hellenizing policies …

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“If the Ladder is Rickety, Don’t Rely on Miracles.”

Today is the last day of Hanukkah. Much like the spices at Havdalah at the end of Shabbat, which are meant to remind us of the sweetness of Shabbat over the course of the rest of the week, so too does to fully-lit menorah we lit last night is meant to leave us with the …

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What Lincoln Can Teach Us About Hanukkah

As a child I was raised on a steady dose of Pilgrims and Native Americans when it came to Thanksgiving. The story was told and retold come fall, and craft projects at school reflected that theme. As I get older, however, that story seems to have faded from my thoughts as I draw to Thanksgiving. …

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Vanquishing our Goblins

Last weekend we had a wonderful visit from Eric Kimmel, one of the leading Jewish children’s book authors. Eric visited the Timberland Library on Saturday evening, then spent Sunday morning with our Beit Sefer families before concluding his time with a lunch with community members. For a tradition that loves storytelling, Eric continues that tradition …

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