Posts Tagged With: Hanukkah

Chanukah Hanukkah Is Almost Here

Shalom Y’All:

It’s been almost four months since we made aliyah, but it seems like years.

During this time In Israel we bought a new car, a new stovetop,  a new TV, and various small appliances which we should have bought in the States.

We’ve prayed in  a number of different synagogues, seen an excellent play in English, been invited to a Shabbat meal with two couples we did not know before, attended an Israeli wedding, and celebrated  the High Holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah here.

Despite the fact that the neighborhood we live in has both religious and secular residents, there were few cars on the street on Rosh Hashanah and no cars at all on Yom Kippur. In fact, on Yom Kippur, many kids ride their bikes on the streets throughout Israel since the streets are free of vehicles. On Sukkot, many food establishments have their own succahs and it is very interesting to see multiple sukkot on streets with restaurants. Jerusalem and many other cities have large public sukkot featuring free entertainment. There is a festive holiday atmosphere in Israel throughout Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

We’ve also spent loads of time filing out forms, including those required to: open a bank account and a checking account,  buy a car, obtain an Israeli Driver’s license-which requires multiple completed forms, an eye test , at least one driving lesson and a driving test, even though we have American licenses – obtain temporary Israeli passports issued after being in Israel for at least three months, but less than a year.

I also attend an Ulpan (one run by the City of Jerusalem) three days a week from 8:30 AM (everything begins early in Israel) to 1 PM. The Ulpan is a school for learning the Hebrew language. The government pays for the first 500 hours of instruction, which, at three days a week, is about ten months. The school administrator tests every student before she assigns them to a class. Those with no knowledge of Hebrew are assigned to a class which meets five days a week, while those with fairly good Hebrew skills attend only twice a week. The rest are three day a weekers. While instruction is in Hebrew, there is, in my humble opinion, too much of an emphasis on grammar. Too little time is spent on conversation. This may be because the classes are too large to engage in meaningful conversation.

The classes composition is like a mini UN. My class has a number of French speaking students from France, a Spanish and Portuguese speaking student from Brazil, English speakers from the United States, a Danish student, an Australian, a Canadian and other students whose origins I do not know since they are new.

It’s getting cool in Jerusalem, although it’s still much warmer in the southern part of the country.  Somehow, I neglected to take everyday turtlenecks with me and I have yet to find a store that sells them. Shipping them from America is very expensive, as the cost of shipping often exceeds the cost of the purchase. The only thing to do is to wait until someone I know visits Israel and is willing to bring a few items with them for me. It seems Israelis do not wear turtlenecks, although I’m not sure why. Correction: I have been told of a store that sells turtlenecks in Geula, a religious neighborhood in Jerusalem.

On a more serious note, there is a slight undercurrent of anxiety in the country due to the  Arab violence. While the threat is real, statistically the probability of any particular person getting hurt is much much less than the chances of getting hurt in an auto accident. Still, it’s unnerving and people at bus stops, for example, try to sit or stand with their backs to the wall. It’s most unfortunate that the incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Isis has created a situation where young Arabs are led to believe that stabbing and killing a Jew is somehow defending Jerusalem for Islam and a desirable act. Building additional barriers around Jerusalem and increased intelligence have helped curb the violence here and the majority of the incidents are now taking place in the territories.  But, hopefully, this too shall pass. In the meantime, Jews are just a tad more careful and those licensed to carry firearms are increasingly doing so.

On a brighter note, Chanukah Hanukkah begins in three weeks. Here are some unique Chanukah shirts and gifts:

Make Latkes Chanukah T-Shirt

Funny Latkes Chanukah t Shirt

Hanukkah Lights Hooded Sweatshirt

Funny Hanukkah Lites Hoodie

Real Men Make Latkes Chanukah Tank Top

It takes a Real Man to Make a Perfect Hanukkah Latke

Oy To The World Funny Jewish Zip Hoodie

Funny Hanukkah Hoodie and Oh So True.

These shirts and hoodies come in many sizes, styles and colors. Buy one for yourself or give them as Chanukah gifts. See the entire collection at JewTee’s Chanukah Hanukkah Shirts and Gifts.

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Categories: Aliya, aliyah, Israel, It Happened In Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Jewish T Shirts and Gifts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chanukah Musings

Shalom Y’All:

Happy Chanukah!

Tonight we light the first Chanukah candle. As we do so, we should keep in mind that while Chanukah is a joyous holiday, its true meaning should not be obscured by the latkes and the gifts. Chanukah is all about religious freedom, the freedom to serve G-d as we wish. Back then it was the Greeks who tried to make Jews into Hellenists and killed those who refused. But this modus operandi is not limited to the Greeks. It was practiced by both Christians and Muslims during the many many years of Jewish persecution.

Today ISIS and the Taliban are killing those who do not practice the same brand of Islam as they do. A tragic recent story described the beheading of four Christian youngsters in Iraq who refused to convert to Islam. Religious bigotry, unfortunately, is alive and well. The freedom to practice any religion freely is not a given in many countries. Jews, in particular, are unwelcome in many parts of the world. They no longer exist in most Arab countries and have been attacked in a number of European cities. The difference is that fortunately, today, unlike in the past, persecuted Jews have a place to go, a place where they are free to practice and believe as they wish. That place of course is Israel. Israel by the way is also a safe haven for many other groups that that been persecuted because of their religion, such as the Bahai, and Ahmadi.

So as you light the candles, think about how fortunate we are that our kids no longer have to play dreidel to hide their Jewish education, that you can practice your religion freely and that if worse comes to worse, you have a place to go where you will be safe.

Enough of the seriousness. Let’s lighten things up a bit. Here are links to eight Chanukah videos that you may enjoy.

Chanukah Music Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSJCSR4MuhU&index=4&list=RDlZE3pyAAn28-Maccabeats

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv-7WdpB72o&list=RDlZE3pyAAn28&index=5-Mattisyahu

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwb1PnLcchw&index=6&list=RDlZE3pyAAn28- Debby Friedman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvY337zKttA&index=7&list=RDlZE3pyAAn2-NCSY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3knzAt4zyI&index=9&list=RDlZE3pyAAn28-Adam Sandler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyKWUpSMegE&list=RDlZE3pyAAn28&index=11-Aish

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0K9M6lCeZw&list=RDlZE3pyAAn28&index=24-Six13

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqEQy6l1kzc KeyTov Orchestra

Some of these are classics. Some have newer versions, such as the Maccabeats, whose newest video can be found here.

Happy Chanukah from JewTee! May your Chanukah be joyous and full of laughter and good cheer.

Categories: Judaism, religion, religious freedom | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Chanukah Questions and Answers

Shalom Y’All:

Chanukah is just six weeks away. It begins on December 16, 2014. My next few blogs will be about Hanukkah.

I think its easier to understand information when it’s presented in short chunks, so I will use the question and answer format for this blog entry.

Q: Why do we celebrate Hanukkah?

A: In the second century BCE a small band of Jews, known as the Maccabees, defeated the Greek army that controlled Israel. The Jews rebelled when the Greeks tried to force them to forego their religion and adopt Hellenism.

The second miracle that happened on Chanukah was that, when the Maccabees liberated the Temple, they only found enough pure oil to light the Menorah for one day. As the Menorah was lit daily, this was a problem. However, the small amount of oil they found burned for eight days and nights, enough time for a new supply of pure oil to be produced.

Q: What is the meaning of the word Chanukah?

Chanukah means dedication. When the Maccabees liberated the Temple, they rededicated it and the altar within it to the service of the Almighty. It had been defiled by the Greeks for pagan worship.

The word Chanukah in Hebrew can also be spilt into: Chanu- meaning they rested, and Kah-here. The numerical value of the Hebrew letters spelling Chanukah is 25. On the 25th day of Kislev, the Hebrew date of Chanukah, the Maccabees rested from fighting and rededicated the Temple.

Q: What does Maccabee mean?

A: It may come from the Hebrew word for hammer or hitting, or it may be an acrostic for the Hebrew words-Mi Kamocha Ba-Elim Hashem- Who Is Like You Among the Mighty, G-d.

Q: Which is correct English spelling- Hanukkah or Chanukah?

In Hebrew, Chanukah is pronounced with a type of guttural ch sound which English does not have. H is the closest English language sound to it. So both are correct.

Q: How do we celebrate Chanukah?

A: Each of the eight nights of Hanukkah we light the menorah, adding an additional candle or light each night. The menorah can be lit using either candles, or oil and wicks.

Q: Are any special foods eaten on Hanukkah?

A: It is customary to eat foods fried in oil, such as latkes and donuts.

Q: Why do we play Dreidel on Hanukkah?

A: When the Greeks ruled over Israel, they disallowed the study of the Torah,  a crime punishable by death. Jewish kids were taught Torah in caves to avoid being seen. When a Greek patrol was spotted near the cave, the children would begin playing with their tops or dreidels. Playing dreidel reminds us of their bravery.

The four Hebrew letters on the dreidel stand for “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,” A Great Miracle Happened There- meaning Israel. In Israel, kids use a dreidel with the Hebrew letter Pey, substituting for the Shin, making the phrase, “Nes Gadol Hayah Poh,” A Great Miracle Happened Here.”

Q: What does Dreidel mean?

A: Dreidel comes from the yiddish word drei, or spin.

Q: Why do we give gifts to the children on Chanukah?

A: Originally, children received Chanukah gelt (money).

One explanation for this custom is that Chanukah gelt was distributed to avoid embarrassment to the poor by enabling them to buy oil or candles for the Menorah.

Another explanation is that Hanukkah sounds like the Hebrew word for education, hinnukh. In late medieval Europe, families gave their children money to give to their Jewish teacher on Hanukkah as a show of their appreciation. In time, the custom also included giving coins to kids to encourage their Jewish studies. Today, Chanukah gelt is sold as chocolate candies in the shape of coins.

Yet another reason is to commemorate the coins minted by the Maccabees after their victory.

Giving gifts is an adaption of the Christian custom of gift giving during this season.

Categories: Chanukah, Hanukkah, Jewish Holidays | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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