Tag Archives: Hanukkah

The Heart Repair of Hanukkah: Blessing Each Other’s Light

Compared to many other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is relatively simple. Sure, there are many lovely customs — latkes, dreidels, sufganiyot, gelt, and the like — but the essential practice of the festival is lighting the menorah each night. And, just … Continue reading

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Spiritual Revolutionaries: Making Religion Meaningful in the 21st Century

On December 1 and 2, 2018, I participated in an interfaith “pulpit swap” with my dear friend and colleague, Rev. Hollie Woodruff, of Seventh Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Richmond. She preached to my congregation on Saturday, and … Continue reading

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Illumin8 2016

1st Night – Playing with Fire During the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Holy Temple had been used for the worship of Greek gods. When the Maccabees captured it, they set about rededicating it for the service of the God … Continue reading

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Illumin8: 8th Night – What Now?

I remember the moment Adira and I first left the hospital after Lilah was born. We had just gone through the emotional and physical avalanche of giving birth, which felt like the culmination of nine long months of preparation, anxiety, … Continue reading

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Illumin8: 7th Night – Spiritual But Not Religious?

  Hanukkah, unlike many other Jewish holidays, is basically a one-note song. The one ritual required, aside from a few changes to the liturgy, is lighting candles. Sure, many of us exchange gifts, eat deep-fried treats and gamble chocolate coins … Continue reading

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Illumin8: 6th Night – Missing the Miracle

One of my favorite midrashim (rabbinic interpretations of Scripture) centers on the story of the Red Sea splitting. God dramatically splits the sea, allowing the Children of Israel to narrowly escape Pharaoh’s charging army. The Children of Israel “marched through the sea on … Continue reading

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Illumin8: 5th Night – Super, Natural!

As far as miracles go, it‘s not God‘s most spectacular. One night‘s worth of oil lasting for eight? Give me the splitting of the Red Sea from the Book of Exodus, or the halting of the sunset from the Book … Continue reading

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Illumin8: 4th Night – The Audacity of Hope

Rabbi Hugo Gryn, a Holocaust survivor who grew to become a prominent British rabbi, once told a story about the time he shared a barrack in Auschwitz with his father: In spite of the unspeakable horror, oppression and hardship, many Jews held onto what … Continue reading

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Illumin8: 3rd Night – Rise Up

The 20th century German theologian Martin Niemöller famously lamented the impact of his silence during the Nazi rise to power: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the … Continue reading

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Illumin8: 2nd Night – The Dignity of Difference

The Hanukkah story begins with the Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ campaign to ensure all his subjects – including the Jews in the Land of Israel – shared the same culture and religion. Antiochus wanted to build a great Greek empire of … Continue reading

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