Eight Reasons to be Happy this Hanukkah

Eight pop-culture or otherwise “non-spiritual” reasons to love Hanukkah this year (2012/5773).

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Rosh Chodesh Tevet & Hanukkah!

Here’s the replay of the Rosh Chodesh Tevet & Hanukkah candle lighting service at OneShul.org, recorded on December 27, 2011. What a wacky, fun service it was — at least for me!  Check over at PunkTorah.org very soon for my article there about Tevet and the experiment with bibliomancy that we did during the service.  (intrigued….aren’t you) Intro and closing music in the service is Havayah, by the Kirtan Rabbi. Also, here’s a link to the book we talked about and used in the service: The Encyclopedia of Jewish...

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Why Hanukkah is Important

Light your menorah with pride. Think about what re-dedicating yourself to Judaism means to you. And I mean you, not what someone else tells you it means. We are a tribe, and think in “we” but sometimes we have to think what “we” means to “me.”

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Hanukkiah: Symbol of Kislev

In thinking about Kislev, I went right to the dreidel and the Hanukkiah.  I decided that if I had to pick one, it’s the Hanukkiah (but I may explore the other dreidels later in the month!)  The Hanukkiah is the nine-branched menorah that we light on Hanukkah.  Even though we generally just call it a menorah, not all menorahs are for Hanukkah!  The menorah, which is an ancient symbol of the Jewish people is actually seven branched. If the menorah is considered  “the most central role of all the sacred vessels, for it is the symbol of light,” and a symbol of spiritual illumination — then it’s safe to assume that this is also the role the Hanukkiah plays.  Hanukkah is a strange holiday because it’s not only post-biblical, but also two holidays smooshed together.  I guess we have a lot of holidays that are two smooshed together, though.  Most commonly Hanukkah is the holiday that celebrates the victory of the Maccabbees over the Greeks, and the “miracle of the oil.”  It’s also a Winter Solstice (Tekufat Tevet) holiday, that acknowledges the darkness of the year and returning of the light.  That’s actually found in ancient midrash, it’s not just some modern “new agey” thing.  It’s even one of the stories I included in the Hanukkah Haggadah! The lighting of the Hanukkah menorah offers wonderful opportunities for spiritual refreshment and renewal.  This year, toss away the annual debates over whether or not Hanukkah is important or just a reaction to Christmas.  Don’t worry about the ethics of celebrating the victory in a war (and that the Maccabees were total zealots, who probably would have killed many of us too…).  Embrace our own holiday of lights at its root level — light. What do you want to light up?  What areas of your life, your heart, your soul need light?  Dedicate your entire Hanukkiah to bringing light into an area in your life.  Let each candle represent a step along the way, and watch the...

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Hanukkah: Re-dedicating the Temple

I originally published this in 2006, but felt like it was worth surfacing again.  The theme of sacrifice and offerings is an ever present one for me, and has recently returned as a focus, particularly in my artwork.   As I got ready for my day today, I heard those who lead my country, and many others in the world talking about the need to make sacrifices — but none of them really willing to do so.    Across the globe we face economic, health, and humanitarian crises.  The day a politicians stop worrying about being re-elected or maintaining their party’s power, and just does the right thing – may be the day we usher in the era of Moshiach. —— RE-DEDICATION Once we had The Temple where we made sacrifices of precious blood and grain. Now we we have temples where people pray, but few truly give offerings. The darkness. The darkness. The darkness. ~Doesn’t the light always return?~ The light, it does return? ~It does return.~ Hanukkah? ~חנוכה~ The lights.   We light them.   The light returns. We light the lights to remember. We light the lights to re-dedicate the temple or The Temple? ~Where is The Temple?~ Isn’t She everywhere? Is She the שכינה, the Presence? Isn’t the Presence everywhere and in everything. ~Yes~ Then I re-dedicate The Temple here. ~נס גדול היה שם~ Yes, but I am here –פה I r e a c h to others who feel as I do.   And one becomes many.   I becomes we.   We together, reclaim our inheritance. We re-dedicate the Earth, אדמה, as Temple. We pour offerings of sweat, not blood. We pour offerings of grain and oil. We pour offerings of praise and care. We care for our Temple, Our Holy of Holies, Through every action we take. We light the lights… ~And it begins again~ [originally published December 14,...

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Sufganiyot Muffins for Hanukkah!

Transforming donut muffins into sufganiyot for Hanukkah!

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