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    3. November, 2013UncategorizedComments are off

    On the evening of Wednesday, November 27, 2013, the lighting the first lights of Chanukah marks the 2178 annual celebration of an historic triumph; the festival of lights. This Festival of Dedication commemorates the victory of Judaism in its struggle against pagan Hellenism. The Maccabees, led by the father of the Maccabees, Mattathias and his son, Judah and their brave band of warriors did not destroy Hellenism paganism. What they did was to defeat its attempt to engulf Judaism. Two centuries later, Hellenism did merge with the few who left Judaism to form Christianity. Chanukah celebrates the successful Jewish resistance to being so merged.

    Spiritually and religiously, Chanukah and Christmas have nothing important in common; despite what the card, candy and commercial industries might say. It makes no sense to pretend that the two observances are equitable, merely because they usually occur during the same month (however, this is not so this year). Chanukah, which saved Judaism from Hellenism, is totally unrelated to Christmas. Jews cannot in good conscience observe Christmas in any form. Christmas, as its name clearly indicates, is the Mass celebrating the birth of Christ (the Greek word which means Messiah) Incarnate. These are precisely the kinds of beliefs and practices the Maccabees fought to keep out of Judaism and that is what we have been fighting for over two thousand years. Of course, in today’s world, this is mitigated somewhat when there are people that marry out of our religion and have children from this mixed union and decide to expose their progeny to both cultures.

    As for the folk customs associated with Christmas; holly, mistletoe, fir trees, Yule logs and the rest—they represent the victory of the Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon paganism over Christianity in early medieval times. When missionary monks found that they could not extirpate those primitive European symbols, the Church capitulated and made them part of the Christian observance.

    Carols and evergreens are “folk customs” only for Christian folk (once again, unless there is a couple that intermarries; then the rules of the individual families come into play).

    Jewish families who desire to be recognizable as Jews will celebrate Chanukah. And they will celebrate this distinctly Jewish festival not only in schools in conjunction with Christmas observances, but also in their homes and communities with their family and friends. These observances include: tasty foods (depending upon where particular Jews live determines the kinds of special Chanukah foods they will have; for example; Jewish people in Eastern Europe enjoy Latkes, or potato pancakes, while Jewish people living in the Middle East and in South America enjoy jelly donuts), joyous songs, fun filled games, chocolate gelt, presents (sometimes as many as eight; one for each day of our holiday), and beautiful blessings (three the first night and two for each of the remaining seven days of our holiday). But the most important observance was saved for last; families spending time together, bonding in the warmth of one our happiest holidays.

    These are the kinds of activities that bring our Jewish families closer together and strengthen our Jewish roots and perhaps even bring blended families closer to the traditions of our mothers and fathers.

    Bar and Bat Mitzvah Lessons

    30. September, 2013BlogComments are off

    Bar is a Hebrew word that means son, and Bat is the Hebrew word for girl or daughter. Mitzvah is a word that is defined as responsibility or law. These are the words which we refer to as the religious moment in time our teens, who have reached the age of 13, have become Bar or Bat Mitzvah.


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