A Hanukkah Miracle

On the first night of Hanukkah, the state of Alabama witnessed a miracle of its own: the voters of this very red state elected a Democrat to the United States Senate for the first time in 27 years. In a highly publicized special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore. Moore, who was endorsed by President Trump, has been accused by multiple women of predatory sexual misconduct, dating back years ago when the women were teenagers and Moore was a much older man.

In Jones’ victory speech, the new senator-elect thanked family, friends and campaign staff, as well as voters of different demographics, even wishing a happy Hanukkah to his Jewish supporters.

What Parents Can Learn From Lighting the Hanukkah Candles

Rabbi Will Keller

I love the scene that unfolds when we light the Hanukkah candles, especially with young children around. I find that children always have a fascination with this experience. They cannot contain their excitement, dancing and weaving between the legs of our guests and family as they try to get as close as possible to the lighting of the hanukkiyot (menorahs). The kids’ excited dances and the glitter of absolute joy in their eyes remind me that our children are in some ways like the candles themselves. [Read more…]

Hanukkah Food Hacks

What can be more festive than delicious holiday specialties made from scratch? For many of us, that is a voyeuristic pleasure, to be enjoyed in a magazine. Real life does not play out that way. Lack of time or attention span is no reason not to enjoy preparing your own Hanukkah treats. Here are some easy shortcuts that will help you fill your home with the aromas and flavors of homemade delicacies.

Latkes (Potato Pancakes) Photo: Jacob Kaplan-Moss https://www.flickr.com/photos/jacobian/

Photo: Jacob Kaplan-Moss.

Latkes

An easy shortcut to fresh homemade latkes is purchasing frozen shredded potatoes, or hash browns, and frozen diced onions. [Read more…]

Akara: Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

What should you serve when the last night of Hanukkah abuts the secular New Year’s Eve? The Yoruba tribe of West Africa offers the perfect recipe for a mash-up of traditions. It makes it possible for you to combine the American southern custom of serving black-eyed peas for good luck with the Hanukkah tradition of serving latkes. The result is akara, one of the most popular snacks in West Africa. [Read more…]

Boathouse Row Transformed Into a Mammoth Menorah

This year, a Hanukkah greeting appeared on one of the boathouses for the first time. Photo credit: NBC10.com

This year, a Hanukkah greeting appeared on one of the boathouses for the first time.
Photo credit: NBC10.com

One of the most magical sights in Philadelphia is Boathouse Row at night, when the riverbank rowing houses are illuminated with a beckoning glow, reflecting on the still waters of the Schuylkill River. For Jews celebrating Hanukkah this season, this visual delight has taken on a new significance: for the first time, the boathouses have been converted into what Mayor Kenney’s office describes in a press release as “one of the largest representations of the menorah in the nation.” [Read more…]

Family Day and Hanukkah Blast

The Kaiserman JCC invites you to a special Family Day and Hanukkah Blast at the J. Come and share in the spirit and joy of Hanukkah with a day of family fun:

  • Mitzvah Morning with JKidPhilly and The Friendship Circle from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Decorate a Menorah with Chabad of Penn Wynne
  • Israel Monopoly with Our New Shaliach
  • Open Gym (including fitness center and track) from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Hanukkah Music
  • Chocolate Gelt
  • Fun Inflatables
  • Nana’s Kitchen Open — Latkes for Sale
  • Dreidel Mania
  • Kids Movie
  • Kindergym
  • Jewish Book Sale with Narberth Book Store
  • Community Candle Lighting (BYOM – Bring Your Own Menorah) at 4 p.m.

Moo Shu Jew Show

Celebrate the first night of Hanukkah at the 8th annual Moo Shu Jew Show. Enjoy the perfect December 24th duo of Jewish comedy and Chinese food. Start the evening with a delicious multi-course dinner in the heart of Chinatown.

Then, get ready to laugh! Co-produced with late night TV favorite Cory Kahaney, this year’s comedic lineup features Julie Goldman (“The People’s Couch”), Josh Gondelman (“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”) and Avi Liberman (“The Late Late Show”). To see what you can expect from these talented comedians, check out these clips of Julie, Josh and Avi.

Tickets are $75 in advance and $85 at the door, if any remain.

This show will sell out, so get your tickets here now! Registration is required.

Food is not kosher; vegetarian options are available. Table seating is assigned on a first purchased, first served basis, at tables for 10. When purchasing tickets, please include the names of fellow attendees with whom you prefer to sit, and we will do our best to accommodate all such requests.

Hanukkah Book-Buying Ideas

For the book lovers on your Hanukkah gift list, reviewers Rabbi Goldie Milgram and E. Bub offer the following suggestions:

dreidels-on-the-brainGive Dreidels on the Brain by Joel ben Izzy on the first night of Hanukkah, and then discuss it on the eighth night. A delightful short volume based in the lifetime of most living grandparents. It’s perfect for grandchildren and grandparents as a shared experience. Through this story, they will love and get to know each other – and Hanukkah – in new and delightful ways. -Rabbi Goldie Milgram
 

mathematicians-shivaA simultaneously delightful and poignant novel, The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer pulls the curtain back on the competitive nature of academia. Discover how a prominent, fictional female mathematician gets the last laugh in a field of envious male colleagues. The Jewish mourning practice, known as shiva, which ensures those in mourning are softly supported and not isolated, serves as the backdrop for the shenanigans in this spicy offering. -Rabbi Goldie Milgram
 

cover 08122014New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family, edited by Goldie Milgram and Ellen Frankel, inspires good Jewish values across the generations through contemporary stories by over 40 authors. The book covers the full spectrum of Jewish life, personal orientation and family structure. Each tale is paired with a stimulating guide for reflection, discussion and action. -E. Bub

Here There It’s That Time of Year

Ist candleIt was almost imperceptible as a lone snowflake lazily fell to the ground and vanished. Soon a smattering, then a flurry of like-minded flakes blanketed the countryside in a glistening quilt of white.

That was there but now I’m here.

It’s different here; where it’s not about snow it’s about oil, wax and paraffin. The first of many lights will soon appear bathing the landscape in an ever increasing glow of flickering lights.

 

The first strains of familiar seasonal songs arrive too soon; they are a harbinger of the coming of the familiar time honored perennial winter chorus.

That was there but now I’m here.

It’s different here; where every town, village and hamlet sprouts their own eight branched lights of freedom and the sound of Rock of Ages is still a week away.

 

Trees shorn at their bases, tied down atop cars heading for their final resting places soon to be laced in tinsel and adorned in strings of multi-colored bulbs.

That was there but now I’m here.

It’s different here; where trees are planted, nurtured and protected to celebrate the rededication of the land and its people, their history and their future.

 

A rather emaciated looking man with a white beard sporting a red suit and hat trimmed in white ermine sauntered down the aisle of a toy store. It was quite early for him to be out and about; perhaps he should have taken more time to fatten up.

That was there but now I’m here.

It’s different here; where men in black attire with starched white shirts hurry and scurry here and there, their destination is not of this world but of the world to come.

 

Drummer boys in splendid uniforms march in perfect cadence while merry greetings of joy fill the air.

That was there but now I’m here.

It’s different here; where boy scouts in the square are hawking their wares like seasoned professionals. Candles and oil for sale; the innocence of youth coupled with unabashed enthusiasm are their marketing tools.

 

Whether here there or anywhere it is that time of the year to renew that part within each of us that finds peace through respect for those with whom we differ.

How ironic that during the darkest days of the year invoking time honored traditions enables us, with light, song and hope, to dispel despair.