Tag Archives: Hanukkah

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Nehemia Polen

Chanukah Means Accepting All that is Offered

“I dwell in possibility,” Emily Dickinson once wrote. On Chanukah, the festival of dedication, we take the possibilities of life and invest ourselves within them, making them our own. On Rosh Hashanah, we are told, our decree for the year is signed. On Yom Kippur it is sealed. On Hoashanah Rabbah, it is handed over for delivery. But only on Chanukah is the crucial last step taken: on Chanukah we… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Student Blog Jessica Lowenthal

Have We Learned from History? A Hanukkah Reflection

We say that we need to learn from history, but how often do we actually do so? Hanukkah provides us with an important test case. When learning about Judah Maccabee in Hebrew school, I was taught about a strong and brave leader who fought for the right to practice Judaism freely. However, I was not taught about the darker side of the Maccabees and the Hasmonean dynasty they established, which… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Student Blog Hanuka-Menorah-100px

The Truth(s) about Hanukkah

What is Hanukkah all about? There are many possible answers to this question; here are just a few to consider: Hanukkah celebrates the military victory of Judah Maccabee and his small band of Jewish freedom fighters over the mighty Syrian Greek Empire Hanukkah recounts the discovery of the miraculous tiny pot of oil the Maccabees used to rededicate the ancient Temple in Jerusalem Hanukkah was introduced as a make-up holiday… Read Article →

Community Blog breakingmatzo-logo

A Hanukkah Passion Project

In the spring of 2015, Andy Goldfarb, a local venture capitalist and entrepreneur, launched a new social media site called Breaking Matzo. Goldfarb, an avid Jewish learner, undertook this passion project as a way to share his love for Judaism and family holiday rituals with a broad audience. In August 2015, he began studying with Rabbi Or Rose, Director of the Center for Global Judaism, as Goldfarb was developing the Hanukkah version… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah jpeg

The Plague of Survivalism (Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18–47:27)

The Jewish people have a knack for surviving, even in the face of great odds. Sometimes, however, it seems as if that is our only goal. In the Torah portion for this week (Vayigash), Joseph, having grown in power and influence in Egypt after his brothers left him for dead in the desert many years before, now reveals his true identity to his assembled siblings. While his remorseful brothers are… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Student Blog Rally Jews Say Black Lives Matter

Do Not Turn Away From the Light: Joseph, Hanukkah and Racial Justice

At its most basic level, Hanukkah is a holiday about bringing light into the darkness. It’s winter. It’s cold, and the night comes early. This is the time of year when we need light more than ever. One function of light is that it reveals to us that which we could not previously see. Light increases visibility. On each night of Hanukkah, we light another candle to illuminate our surroundings…. Read Article →

Rabbinical School Student Blog 220px-Ragaputra_Velavala_of_Bhairava

A Hanukkah “Raga”: An Ecological Reflection

One of the first teachings that drew me to Hindustani (North Indian) classical music was that of the raga. Each raga – literally color or melody – is associated with a unique time of day. On the tree of Indian classical music, each raga is a different branch; in the cycle of a day or a year, each raga embodies a different quality or emotion that is expressed through improvisational… Read Article →

Parenting Through a Jewish Lens natans kids

Hanukkah, Tzedakkah and Kids

One of the things that a lot of parents (including me and my wife) have been talking about the last few days has been Hanukkah and our kids’ expectation for presents.  People have a lot of different customs and approaches to the subject.  Some families we know don’t do presents at all on Hanukkah.  Most do. Some do one small present every night.  Some do just one big one on… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Judith_with_the_Head_of_Holofernes_by_Cristofano_Allori

The Forgotten Miracle of Hanukkah

Why is this month (Kislev) different from all other months in the Jewish year? It offers us a holiday (Hanukkah) that (at least in the Northern hemisphere) resists and subverts the natural order. At the darkest time of year, we celebrate light. And the stories we tell to explain our rituals of creating light emphasize the overturning of “natural” expectations. A small band of improvised fighters defeats an imperial army…. Read Article →