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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘menorah’

Joe Biden to Light ‘National Menorah’

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Vice President Joe Biden will assist in the lighting this year of the Hanukkah menorah on the ellipse in front of the White House.

Biden’s participation on Dec. 16, the first night of the holiday, marks the 35th anniversary of the first lighting of the “National Menorah,” an event sponsored by American Friends of Lubavitch, the Washington office of the Chabad movement.

It has become a tradition for Cabinet-level officials to assist in the lighting.


Look How Social Abbas is on Social Media

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is about to make his tenth visit to Israel in order to “facilitate” the “peace process” and usher in the era of good will between the long-time not best of friends the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs. Just take a gander at the photo below.  It is what is posted on the official Facebook page of Fatah, the self-described “Palestinian National Liberation Movement,” the party of Palestinian Arab leader Mahmoud Abbas.

A screenshot of the page was tweeted on Tuesday, Jan. 1, by Mark Regev, the spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister. Regev included the message, “this pic, glorifying terror, was posted by Pres Abbas’s Fatah on its FB page as #SecKerry arrives to promote peace.”

The Fatah Facebook cover photo. Does this look like Fatah is ready for peace?

The Fatah Facebook cover photo. Does this look like Fatah is ready for peace?

There is also a smaller inset picture on the Fatah Facebook page. This is a slightly updated version of the official Fatah logo. As pointed out by an observer who saw Regev’s tweet, the logo is perhaps even more alarming. It makes absolutely clear that Fatah has no interest in a negotiated “two state solution.” Neither two states, nor anything suggesting negotiations as a desired tactic, appears on the Fatah logo.

The official logo of the Fatah party

The official logo of the Fatah party

The Fatah logo has a picture of the Dome of the Rock shrine located on the Temple Mount, with a Palestinian flag waving. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the Dome represents both Islam and the Palestinian claim to all of Jerusalem. The logo also contains a map of Israel – all of Israel, Areas A, B and C, in chains. They want to liberate all of the land.  The number 49 at the top of the picture is for the 49th year of the revolution. The key, along the bottom of the picture, of course represents the claims made by Palestinian Arabs that they are still carrying the keys to the homes in Israel which were allegedly taken from them.  The gun image running along the entire right hand side of the logo suggests a peaceful path is not the one they choose.

The dove breaking free from chains represents the Palestinian Arab “political prisoners,” all of whom Fatah believes must be freed.


In striking contrast, the emblem of the state of Israel is a menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum, flanked by olive branches.  The menorah has been the symbol of the Jewish people for millennium.  It is intended to represent Israel as a light unto the nations. The olive branches symbolize peace. Beneath the pictures appears the word Israel in Hebrew letters.

The Likud party, the party of Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu – the party and the man are always described as “hawkish” – is simply a slightly italicized version of the word Likud in Hebrew. Likud means “consolidation” or “combination” in Hebrew.


Perhaps these images will be forwarded to Secretary Kerry and his boss, as well as all other American politicians and other leaders who believe now is the right time to browbeat Israel into making peace with Abbas and his Fatah party, whose symbols appear above.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Dutch Christians’ Mega-Menorah Helps Jews Come Out of their Shell

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Amsterdam’s Chabad Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs lit the candles on the first night Hanukkah Wednesday on a 36-foot menorah with a six-ton base that was made with donations by Christian Zionists.

Klaas Zijlstr designed and built the menorah, in the shape of a Star of David, in his metal workshop in the northern tip of the Netherlands. Possibly the largest in all of Europe, the handiwork of a Protestant metal contractor is meant to be a sign of solidarity by Christian Zionists with the Jewish people.

“It’s exactly like the rabbi wanted,” Zijlstra said.

Rabbi Jacobs helped Zijlstra and a group called Christians for Israel design the nine-branch candelabrum so it could be used for the eight-day holiday, which began Wednesday night and which was lit in front of hundreds of Christians and Jews during a public ceremony in Nijkerk, not far from Amsterdam.

Though commonplace in the United States and even in Russia, public Hanukkah events are a recent and revolutionary development in the Netherlands. Here they signify the growing self-confidence and openness of a Jewish community whose near annihilation in the Holocaust left a deeply entrenched tendency to keep a low profile.

“Twenty years ago, this wouldn’t‎‎ have been possible,” said Arjen Lont, the Christian Zionist businessman who donated $40,000 to build and transport the menorah. “It requires a lot of openness.”

Lont says the purpose of the giant menorah, which can be used either with electric bulbs or oil lamps, is to send a message.

“After unspeakable suffering, the horrors of the Holocaust and most recently the attacks on Israel, Jews may feel they are alone,” Lont told JTA. “This is our way of saying you are not alone; we are behind you.”

The first public Hanukkah lighting ceremony in the country was organized in 1989 in Buitenveldert, near Amsterdam, by the wife of a Chabad rabbi, according to Bart Wallet, a historian of Dutch Jewry at the University of Amsterdam.

Today, such events are held annually in 19 municipalities, from the northern city of Leeuwarden, near Berlikum, to the southern border city of Maastricht, according to Rabbi Jacobs.

He said that public menorah lightings in the country signify the Jewish community’s confidence in asserting its place in Dutch society.

“Nowadays it’s also saying we are here; we are also a part of the fabric of religious communities and society,” he explained.

Dutch Jewish reticence toward public displays of faith dates back at least to the 19th century, according to Wallet, when Dutch rabbis decreed that no Jewish rituals should be held in the public domain. At the time, Dutch Jews were keen on integrating into a democratic society as equal citizens, and they considered it counterproductive to showcase religious customs that set them apart from their compatriots.

The tendency was greatly reinforced after the Holocaust, when three-quarters of Holland’s population of 140,000 Jews perished — a higher percentage than anywhere else in occupied Western Europe. Today, about 40,000 Jews live in the Netherlands.

Wallet says things began to change in the 1970s, when Dutch Jews began displaying greater activism around anti-Semitism and Israel.

Even today, however, many Dutch Jews retain a sense of reticence when it comes to public displays of religion.

“There’s nothing wrong with these Hanukkah events, but to me they don’t seem familiar,” said Jaap Hartog, chairman of the umbrella group of Dutch Jewry, called the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK. “To me, Hanukkah is more a holiday that you celebrate at home with your family. The public candle lightings are more of an American thing.

“On a personal level, I’m not too keen on participating.”

Initially, Chabad rabbis organized candle lighting ceremonies as part of their efforts to reach lapsed Jews, but today the menorah lightings are not organized exclusively by Chabad. Nathan Bouscher, a Jewish activist who is not himself religious, has co-organized candle lightings at the Dam, Amsterdam’s best-known square.

“It’s a way to build bridges between Jews and the non-Jewish environment, but also within the community and between Dutch-born Jews and the thousands of Israelis who live here and the tourists from Israel,” Bouscher said.

Back at Zijlstra’s metal workshop, his menorah is attracting attention from neighbors. During the test run last week, a few of them stopped by to admire his handiwork and congratulate him.


US ‘Holiday Stamps’ Include Menorah Made by Vermont Blacksmith

Monday, November 25th, 2013

The U.S. Postal Service has created a new Hanukkah stamp this year featuring an iron menorah made by a Vermont blacksmith, but the omission of a stamp for Christmas has left a lot of people burning angry.

Pouring salt on their wounds, the Postal Service also issued two other stamps for the holiday, one marking the African American holiday Kwanzaa and a third showing a gingerbread house.

The Hanukkah stamp shows a menorah made by Steve Bronstein of Mansfield, Vermont. He told the Rutland Herald he did not even know his menorah was in the running to be represented on a stamp.

“When they called and said they wanted to make a stamp out of the menorah, I thought they meant a rubber stamp,” he told the local newspaper. “I didn’t know I was talking to the postal service. I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s nice to get some acknowledgement every once in a while.”

Bronstein, armed with a degree in biology, moved from New York to Vermont with the idea of finding work at a medical school.

He said that since one of his hobbies is woodworking, he decided to make a chisel for one of his projects since he could not find the right in local hardware stores. His introduction into tool making piqued his interest, and he ended up working as a blacksmith.

He said when he made his first menorah in 1985, people thought he was off his dreidel.

“At the time, Hanukkah menorahs were brass and shiny and had more of a 1960s design aesthetic,” Bronstein explained. “I was doing something very different and it worked really well. I’ve sold a ton.”

He now sells around 100 menorahs a year and his works can be found in collections such as the Jewish Museum in New York.

While Bronstein is elated about the honor of his menorah being on envelopes across the nation, the Postal Service is on the receiving end of a lot of anger because of its omission of Christmas for this year’s “holiday stamps.”

After it advertised the stamps featuring the menorah, Kwanzaa and a gingerbread house, people started pouring on the criticism.

One tweet sarcastically stated,  “Don’t forget those three American holidays: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and…..gingerbread house. #USPS.”

The Postal Service apologized, saying no offense was intended.

“Our design included the most recent newly issued stamps. We did not look to offend or exclude any religion,” the postal service stated.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Pass the Cranberry Latkes for Thanksgivukkah Holiday (Video)

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

If the Pilgrims are lighting menorahs and the Maccabees are chasing turkeys, it must be Thanksgivukkah, as some have come to call the confluence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah that will happen this year on Nov. 28.

It’s a rare event, one that won’t occur again until 2070 and then in 2165. Beyond that, because the Jewish lunisolar (lunar with solar adjustments) calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, the Chanukah-Thanksgiving confluence won’t happen again by one calculation until the year 79811 — when turkeys presumably will be smart enough to read calendars and vacation in space that month.

How do we celebrate this rare holiday alignment? Do we stick candles in the turkey and stuff the horns of plenty with gelt? Put payos on the Pilgrims? What about starting by wishing each other “gobble tov” and then changing the words to a favorite Chanukah melody:

“I cooked a little turkey, Just like I’m Bobby Flay, And when it’s sliced and ready, I’ll fress the day away.”

The holiday mash-up has its limits. We know the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will not end with a float carrying a Maccabee. But it has created opportunities as well: Raise your hand if you plan to wait until the post-Thanksgiving Day sales for your Chanukah shopping.

Ritually, just as we’ve figured out that we add candles to our menorahs from right to left and light them from left to right, a new question looms this year: Should we slice the turkey before or after?

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Dr. Ron Wolfson, whose book “Relational Judaism” (Jewish Lights Publishing) speaks to how our communal relationships — how we listen and welcome — can make our Jewish communities more meaningful. “This year is about bringing friends and family together.”

Wolfson, also the author of “The Chanukah Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration,” said in a recent interview that this year’s calendrical collision was a way to enhance “Thanksgiving beyond football and a big meal.”

In the American land of commercial plenty, the confluence certainly has served up a feast of merchandise. There are T-shirts saying “8 Days of Light, Liberty & Latkes” and a coffee mug picturing a turkey with nine burning tail feathers. And then there’s the ceramic menorah in the shape of a turkey — a Menurkey, created by 9-year-old Asher Weintraub of New York.

But being more of a do-it-yourselfer, this writer recycled an old sukkah decoration to create a Thankgivukkkah centerpiece — the cornukiyah.

For the holiday cook trying to blend the two holidays’ flavors, there’s a recipe that calls for turkeys brined in Manischewitz, and another for cranberry latkes. But what about a replacement for the now infamous Frankenstein of Thanksgiving cuisine, the turducken? How about a “turchitke,” a latke inside of a chicken inside of a turkey?

For Wolfson, who has largely ignored the merch and wordplay, this year simply is an opportunity to change the script. At his Thanksgiving dinner, he is going combine Chanukah ritual with holiday elements found on FreedomsFeast.us, a website that uses American holidays to pass on “stories, values and behaviors.”

Wolfson, a Fingerhut professor of education at American Jewish University, wants us to consider the similarities of the stories at the heart of each holiday.

“The Pilgrims were escaping religious persecution in Europe. They did not want to be assimilated,” Wolfson said, adding that “the Maccabees were fighting against Hellenization,” another form of assimilation.

Counter to the usual “December dilemma” for the intermarried — whose numbers have increased to 58 percent since 2005, according to the recent Pew study — Wolfson noted the “opportunities and challenges” presented this year by Chanukah and Christmas not coinciding.

“We usually feel the tension between the two holidays,” he said. “This year we can feel the compatibility of the two.”

The early Chanukah will help people to appreciate its “cultural integrity,” said Wolfson, adding that he “would not be surprised by a spike in candle lighting this year.”

But for others in the Jewish community, the pushing together of the Festival of Lights with Turkey Day has forced other changes, some unwanted.

Rabbi Steven Silver of Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach, Calif., is canceling his temple’s traditional Friday night Chanukah dinner. “That holiday weekend will be vacation time, people will be out visiting family and friends,” he said. “The rabbis won’t have anyone in front of them that weekend, and that’s a problem.”


London Family Robbed of $30,000 in Judaica While Sleeping

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Burglars stole Judaica artifacts worth approximately $30,000 from a Jewish family in northern London while they were sleeping, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

The thieves took menorahs, a Seder plate and silver cups, among other items, from the Palmer family home in Edgeware. Howard Palmer said the items were “totally irreplaceable.” Two of his five children were at home during the robbery.

An iPod and computer also were stolen.

Hackney police said the robbers gained entry through a patio door, which had been locked but was taken off its runner.

Palmer said the burglary has caused great distress for himself, his wife and the two children at home.

“We are finding it difficult to sleep,” he said. “It has got to the point where it’s hard to leave the house.”


A Great Miracle is Happening Here Again!

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Every child in the Diaspora knows the difference. But when they get older, I suppose they forget.

In the Diaspora, the Hebrew letters on a dreidel are Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Shin. “A great miracle happened THERE.”

In Israel, the letters on the dreidels are Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Peh. “A great miracle happened HERE.”

That says it all.  This is the Land of Miracles. This is the Land that God gave to the Jewish People. This is the Land of our Biblical history, and the Land where our Redemption is unfolding today.

Yesterday, we drove to Modiin, where the Chanukah rebellion began, to pay our respects to Mattitiyahu and his brave and holy sons, and to pray at their graves. Across the highway, you can see the vibrant, modern city of Modiin with its hi-rise buildings, a new Israeli city filled with synagogues, mikvaot, brit milah ceremonies every day, and happy Jewish life, the very things the Greeks sought to destroy. Just along the road is the Haredi city of Modiin Elite with even more yeshivot and mikvaot. Their rebuilding is the greatest revenge over the Greeks and over all the nations that have tried to destroy us and to uproot our faith.

Happy Chanukah!

Tzvi Fishman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/a-great-miracle-is-happening-here-again/2012/12/13/

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