Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
This is the season of Mashiv HaRuach, “He makes the wind blow and the rain fall.” And this was Shabbat Mevorchim, the Blessing of the New Month — Chanukah’s month, Kislev, beginning Thanksgiving night, Nov. 27.
A day after an SUV smashed into a glass-plated storefront and plowed through the Chabad Chanukah Wonderland celebration in Woodmere, L.I., members of the Chabad-Lubavitch community were picking up the pieces from the shattering mess that ruined holiday festivities.
Reached in the early hours of Friday morning, CrownHeights.Info editor Ben Lifshitz described the scene Thursday afternoon as one of utter “chaos.”
When I was a small child in Houston, my mother would come to school every year to teach about Chanukah.
Armed with her guitar, wax-encrusted menorah, dreidels and box of latkes mix, my mother (laying her New York accent on a little thicker than usual) gave my Christian classmates a brief recap of the Maccabee story before launching into some songs. A blonde girl once requested "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer." The teacher looked embarrassed, but my mother laughed and said, "Why not?"
Think of My Jewish Learning — the Jewish Internet-based venture from mega-donors Lynn Schusterman and Edgar Bronfman launched this week — as “Encyclopedia Judaica” on Broadband or Maimonides Meets Microsoft.
When I was a kid, I never would have predicted that one day I’d be purchasing the economy-sized boxes of Shabbat candles at the supermarket.
How could I, when I barely knew there was a Jewish Sabbath? Indeed, had I been asked to identify a Shabbat candle, I probably would have mixed it up with a Chanukah or yahrtzeit one.
Charly Rodriguez plays Latin jazz. So does Charly Schwartz: which may come as a surprise to his fellow band members in La Onda Va Bien. Schwartz and Rodriguez are the same person: the Brooklyn-born son of Cuban Jewish immigrants who raised him on equal parts Havana rhythms and "Hava Nagila."
No wreaths, no carols, no holiday gift sales.
In Israel, outside of Bethlehem and a few other Christian enclaves at least, Chanukah is the holiday this time of year. There is no sign of that other holiday.
Bakeries and groceries feature waist-high stacks of jelly doughnuts, Ashkenazi restaurants turn piles of potatoes into latkes, families light their chanukiot in glass-covered cases outside their front doors and children spin dreidels that substitute the Hebrew letter peh for a shin, as in “A great miracle happened here (po).”