Christmas and Chanukah

A few years ago something very rare occurred, something that happens maybe once in a lifetime, about as frequently as Haley’s Comet. Chanukah coincided with Thanksgiving.  We marveled at the rarity of the event and the quirk of the Jewish calendar that caused the holiday of Chanukah, which for as long as any of us …

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Shabbat HaGadol: To Kitniyot or Not?

April 16, 2016   Today is known as “Shabbat HaGadol” because it is the Sabbath before Passover. Because Passover is such an important holiday, with so many regulations and restrictions, and it is so widely celebrated by Jews the world over, the Sabbath preceding it gets special recognition. Unlike the other special shabbatot of the …

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Does God Have a Favorite in the Belmont Stakes?

Chanukah December 12, 2015   I want to share with you an explanation I wrote of the Chanukah story which puts it in contemporary terms.   When the Macabees, or as they were called by some, the HUCKABEES, came marching into Jerusalem they went up the HILARY to the temple, and found that the SANTORUM …

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Some Things You Can Discuss at Your Seder this Year

Shabbat HaGadol April 12, 2014   This, the Shabbat before Pesah, is known as Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat. And what a great Shabbat it is – the chance to see and to celebrate a special birthday of a great grandmother and the naming of her great grandchild!  This after all, is part of the …

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Are You A Passover or Purim Jew?

March 23, 2013   Having recently returned from a congregational trip to Krakow, Warsaw, Prague and Berlin, I still have images emblazoned in my head of the infernos of destruction we witnessed, of the towns that were once thriving, teeming centers of Jewish life, and which are now Judenrein, lifeless shells, without any Jews.  Prague …

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What I Will Be Thinking About at the Seder This Year

The invitation at the beginning of the seder inviting all who are hungry to come and eat is an invitation to much more than a dinner invitation to partake in a meal. It is an invitation to participate in the eternal dialogue of what it means to understand and apply the message of Judaism to …

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A New “Mah Nishtana:” Four Questions for Our Time

A Supplement Which You May Use At Your Seder   Bechol haleilot, On all other nights we eat hurried and rushed meals. Haleila hazeh, Tonight we are gathered together as a family without other distractions.   What can we do to strengthen our bonds as a family and to ensure that we focus our attention …

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Chanukah 2010

This Chanukah has been an extremely busy time of year, especially as I am slowly taking on more responsibilities and beginning to resume a full schedule. On the first night of Chanukah I was with Ambassador Michael Oren and his wife, Sally, at a private reception at the 6th & I Synagogue downtown. From there …

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The Cycle of the Holidays

May 9, 2009   Thomas Mann in his book The Magic Mountain writes, “Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year.  Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire …

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Yizkor

Yizkor October 9, 2008   As is true of any year, many people died this past year. I don’t mean to sound harsh, cold, unfeeling, or unsympathetic, but that is the truth.  Some were people we knew and loved, and some were people we only heard of, but it felt like we knew them.   …

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