Tag: Hanukkah

Quote of the Day: The Holiday Season

 

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!'” – Dave Barry

I am not sure how I improve on this Dave Barry quote. Only a fool would try. So I will leave you with Merry Christmas. Feel free to add the holiday greeting of your faith in the comments.

Three Important Hanukkah Messages

 

Two messages by President Trump, and one exceptional video message from Prime Minister Johnson, set the right tone for the two nations’ recognition of a minority faith that has been under increasing assault. President Trump, having earlier held an annual Hanukkah reception, at which he signed a significant executive order to combat universities increasingly open anti-Semitism, published a warm presidential message on Hanukkah 2019. Yet, this year, it was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Chanukah message that cut to the heart of the history and current problems in the United Kingdom. In the context of Labour being rejected by the British people, in significant part due to the exceptionally nasty piece of work leading that party, Jeremy Corbyn, PM Johnston spoke strongly and plainly about the right of British Jews to be both, publicly, without fear of harassment or worse.

Note that this video, like the one below, is official. 10 Downing Street is the official YouTube channel of the British Prime Minister, as White House is the official YouTube channel of the President of the United States.

Music for Light in Darkness

 

A little over three months ago, I shared “Beautiful Dark Things,” a piece of music along with an essay on drawing creative inspiration from nature. Sometime in September, I realized that the rhythm of that music fit well to the first half of Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine, Jerusalem; for thy light is come,” or in Latin, “Jerusalem surge illuminare, quia venit lumen tuum.” Cannibalizing a secular (or, as I often sense, just not overtly sacred) piece for use in sacred music is a venerable tradition. As Luther said, why should the devil have all the best tunes?

Not only did many Christmas hymns start out as secular carols, but even oratorios get in on the game. Handel repurposed several secular love duets for his Messiah. If you’re familiar with choruses from Handel’s Messiah such as, “For unto us a child is born,” “And he shall purify,” “His yoke is easy,” and “All we like sheep,” you’ll recognize them here. So, I’m in good company.

A Christmas Carol from Finland

 

I’m a night owl and the rest of my family are not. So when Christmas Eve rolls around, the house is quiet and I’m wrapping a few last gifts, assembling bicycles, and arranging everything just so under the tree, I listen to quiet, reverent carols to fit the mood. Being of Finnish extraction, this is my favorite.

An Old Christmas Card

 

On December 19, 1945, my father was with the Sixth Division in Korea and wrote a short note to my mother back in Indiana, full of longing to be home, and hoping she received the Christmas package he had sent earlier. I found this when re-organizing some family history stuff.

Member Post

 

The Israeli postal service makes its US counterpart look like the paragon of efficiency. One year, my rabbi (who lives in Israel) was expecting an important package, and the post office could not find it. After a month of call upon call to functionary after functionary, the most he could determine was that the package […]

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This article was published in the Sacramento Bee at least 20+ years ago, By Rabbi Lester A. Frazin, at that time leader of Congregation B’nai Israel, Sacramento. No Virginia, the festival of Hanukkah is not a Jewish Christmas. The two holidays are galaxies apart in both meaning and content. No, Virginia, there is no such […]

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Ok…I’m a weeper….but have you ever heard a piece of music that halts you in your tracks, where you have to stop what you’re doing and sit down?  It pulls on a deep emotion from somewhere, gives a shiver, as though it were composed for angels?  Anything by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) is […]

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What Is Hanukkah?

 

From the standpoint of Jewish law, Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday. The book of Maccabees did not make it into the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Talmud devotes entire tractates to the Sabbath, Passover, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkoth, even Purim — but Hanukkah is discussed over only a few pages. Of that, only a few lines are devoted to the festival’s origins. They begin with the uncharacteristic question (BT Shabbat 21b), “What is Hanukkah?”

The holiday’s history begins in the wake of Alexander the Great’s death. Alexander’s empire was carved up by his generals. Seleucus presided over Babylonia initially, but quickly expanded his territory through conquest. His son Antiochus I inherited a vast Seleucid empire that stretched from Turkey to India.