Chancellor’s 5781 Hanukkah Message

Chancellor’s 5781 Hanukkah Message

Dec 11, 2020 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Short Video | Hanukkah

Chancellor Schwartz shares her thoughts for Hanukkah.

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Miracles of Today

Miracles of Today

Dec 11, 2020 By Shuly Rubin Schwartz | Commentary | Hanukkah

One of the things I love most about Jewish holiday observances is their evolution over time and space even as core rituals remain. Hanukkah exemplifies this phenomenon. Established by the Hasmoneans to commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus, Hanukkah in the Talmud (composed several centuries after these events) focuses on celebrating the miracle of the Temple oil lasting for eight days. With few prescribed mitzvot associated with the holiday, Hanukkah has long been ripe for creative interpretation: theological, sociological, culinary, musical, and artistic. The Hanukkiah itself illustrates its generativity, for it has been hewn from the humblest potato or the most ornate, intricately designed sterling silver; it can take the form of a tiny travel jigsaw puzzle or an enormous outdoor display.

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Borukh Ate

Borukh Ate

Dec 7, 2020 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Short Video | Hanukkah

“Borukh ate” zingt der tate—a father sings the opening words of the blessing, and kindles the light, and its soft rays fall on his pale face. With just a few words, the poet Avrom Reisen paints a picture of a slightly stooped, weary man, who somehow finds meaning and holiness in a simple act of lighting the Hanukkiah. The gentle melody, almost a lullaby, reminiscent of a folk song, yet soaring with emotion, was written by a composer Solomon Golub.

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The Hanukkah Story I Need to Hear This Year

The Hanukkah Story I Need to Hear This Year

Dec 15, 2017 By David Hoffman | Commentary | Hanukkah

Stories have great power. We tell stories about ourselves and about our communities because they give our lives meaning, and they help us navigate between the past and the future. We use stories to help us make sense of the world and our place in it. Not far behind the seemingly innocent plots of many of the stories we tell about our community’s religious history lie profound cultural responses to our most pressing questions about what it means to be a human being and how to live life well.

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Lighting Up the Dark Days

Lighting Up the Dark Days

Dec 11, 2017 By Julia Andelman | Short Video | Hanukkah

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Yosef: A Light in the Darkness

Yosef: A Light in the Darkness

Dec 8, 2017 By Eitan Fishbane | Commentary | Vayeshev | Hanukkah

Parashat Vayeshev takes us deep into the pain and alienation of being human, of yearning from a low place of darkness and suffering. And yet the narrative also conveys the power of hope—a longing for God and redemption, for spiritual and moral healing in our human relationships.

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Why Did the Seleucid State “Persecute” the Jews?

Why Did the Seleucid State “Persecute” the Jews?

Dec 30, 2016 By Nathan Schumer | Commentary | Hanukkah

The familiar version of the story of Hanukkah is one of Jewish agency. Jews were persecuted and then, under the Hasmonean banner, successfully defeated the Seleucid conquerors, drove off the persecutors, and rededicated their Temple. But this telling omits why the Seleucids “persecuted” the Jews. This is an aspect of Hanukkah that’s poorly understood, but recent scholarship helps to explain the Seleucid perspective.

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Being Raised from the Pit

Being Raised from the Pit

Dec 23, 2016 By Simeon Cohen | Commentary | Vayeshev | Hanukkah

Three years ago, Jewish novelist Dara Horn published her fourth novel, A Guide for the Perplexed. Borrowing its title from Maimonides’s quintessential work of Jewish philosophy, the book follows two sisters, Josephine and Judith, as they struggle with issues of faith, reason, memory, and sibling rivalry. Josephine and Judith serve as stand-ins for Joseph and Judah; in a sense, the novel functions as an extended midrash on a key biblical incident which can be found in this week’s parashah, Vayeshev: the casting of Joseph into the pit at the hands of his brothers. Ultimately, Horn’s Josephine and the biblical Joseph arrive at the same conclusion: through suffering, which both characters experience in their respective tales, one can ultimately come to achieve greatness.

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Hanukkah Nights

Hanukkah Nights

Dec 24, 2016 By David Hoffman | Collected Resources | Text Study | Hanukkah

A text, insight, and discussion question for each night of Hanukkah.

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Al Hanissim

Al Hanissim

Dec 10, 2014 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Prayer Recordings | Hanukkah

In preparation for Hanukkah, we are excited to share a recording of Al Hanissim, composed by Mike Boxer of the Jewish a cappella group Six13 and performed by the Chorus of the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music.

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