Hanukkah (aka Chanukkah) is the Jewish festival of lights and one of the most joyous celebrations of the Judaic calendar, including present-giving, game playing and the consumption of diet-busting delicacies.

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In Jamaica, Hanukkah means Freedom

Hanukkah is the eight-day holiday commemorating the miracle of the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Revolt of the Maccabees in the 2nd century BCE. One of the major observances is the kindling of the lights in an eight-branched Hanukkah Menorah, also called a Hanukkiah. As in the rest of the Diaspora, this Jewish holiday is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Jamaica. Read more…here

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 Hanukkah in Kingston Jamaica

 Wishing You Hanukkah Lovin’

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The miracle of Chanukah is not just about a little bit of oil lasting eight days. It is about the inner healing light within each of us. Chanukah is a time when we can celebrate this inner healing light as we move toward wellness. Chanukah is also about the miracle of survival against all odds, about hope, courage and belief in one’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Chanukah Candle-Lighting Blessings

First night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our bodies.

Second night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our minds.

Third night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our souls.

Fourth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our children.

Fifth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our parents.

Sixth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our communities.

Seventh night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the restoration of health and wellness to those who are ill, suffering, or grieving.

Eighth night:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows from this season, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our world.

Shamash:
For the blessing of well-being and transformation that flows through the Shekinah, the Source of Healing Wisdom and Inner Light.

Special thanks to Rabbi Malka Drucker, whose Hanukkah teaching can be found at malkadrucker.com

The Best Singin’ & Dancin’ Hanukkah Candles, ever!

Happy HanukkahClick on the picture link, then click on each candle. Select the Shamash (red center candle) to start or stop.

Mi yimalel gvurot Yisrael, Otan mi yimne?

Hen be’chol dor yakum ha’gibor

Goel ha’am!

Shma! Ba’yamim ha’hem ba’zman ha’ze

Maccabi moshia u’fode

U’v’yameinu kol am Yisrael

Yitached yakum ve’yigael!

Who can retell the things that befell us, Who can count them?

In every age, a hero or sage

Came to our aid.

Hark! In days of yore in Israel’s ancient land

Brave Maccabeus led the faithful band

But now all Israel must as one arise

Redeem itself through deed and sacrifice.

NACOEJ Ethiopian Embroidery Program. Stunning craftmanship!

NACOEJ - Ethiopian Jewish EmbroideryHandmade Embroidered Artwork can be order at: North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ)

 DID YOU KNOW?

…in Germany, the eighth and last night of Chanukah used to be very special. All the leftover wicks and oil were lit in giant bonfires. People sang songs and danced around the fire, often until the small hours of the night.

…in Yemen it was the tradition to light bon fires according to the days of hanukkah

…Turkish Jews make candles from the flax fibers used to wrap the etrog. The remains of these Chanukah candles are then melted together to make another candle used to search for bread crumbs pre-Passover.

…If you are an Ashkenazi Jew (of European ancestry) it is traditional for every family member to light a hanukkiah (menorah). If you are a Sephardi (descended from Spain and Portuguese Jews) only the head of the household lights the hanukkiah.

Sfenj (Moroccan Hanukkah Doughnuts)-c71e5d9a63fc3479

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-3/4 to 3 cups of warm water (about 100 degrees), divided
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Honey, for drizzling on cooked doughnuts

Instructions

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. In a small bowl, dissolve active dry yeast and sugar in one cup of the warm water. Set aside until the mixture becomes foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and add 1-3/4 cups water. If the dough is heavy and a bit dry, add remaining water. Dough should be soft and smooth, but no so soft that it seems like batter.

Stir the dough until you get a nice, somewhat sticky mixture.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour. With oiled hands, reach under the dough and bring the bottom to the top and fold over. Repeat 3 to 4 more times until the dough has completely deflated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Heavily flour a work surface. Flour your hands well and pull off a small handful of dough and squeeze it in your hand to get a single small ball of dough the size of a golf ball. Toss the ball in the flour and using your thumb, poke a hole all the way through the dough ball. Stretch the ball into a doughnut shape, about 3-1/2-inches wide. Lay on the floured surface and repeat with remaining dough.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 inches of canola oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 4 to 6 doughnuts (depending on the size of your skillet), gently slide doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to splash. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side.

Transfer doughnuts to a plate lined with a paper towel, and allow to drain and cool slightly. Drizzle lightly with honey before serving.

The story of the Maccabees still speak to us today, lighting our homes with faith and filling our hearts with pride.

Hanukkah, Artist Varda Livney

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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On November 9, 1938, the Nazis unleashed a series of riots against the Jews in Germany and Austria. In the space of a few hours, thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed. For the first time, tens of thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps simply because they were Jewish. This event came to be called Kristallnacht (“Night of the Broken Glass”) for the shattered store windowpanes that carpeted German streets.

 

The song Ani Ma’amin was sung by Jews as they rode in the catttle cars to the camps during the Holocaust. The tune was sung by dozens of Jews as they marched to the gas chambers in the Nazi death camps. It is still frequently sung at Holocaust Remembrance Day services. Some also sing it at the Passover Seder, in memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began on the first night of Passover in 1943. In the face of the most unspeakable horror, there was this majestic affirmation of hope. The words come from a prayer written in the 12th Century by the great Judaic philosopher Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, Rambam), who believed, literally, in the coming of the Messiah. The poignancy of people going to their deaths singing his words of affirmation reminds us both that there is nothing new under the sun, and there is nothing more powerful than “perfect faith.”

Ani Ma’amin by Ben Sidran

“I believe with perfect faith in the Messiah’s coming and even if the Messiah is delayed, I will await that coming.”
Remembering the tragedy of Kristallnacht. More information HERE

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me. ~ Pastor Martin Niemöller

“NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN TO ANYONE!”

Confront Genocide

SUKKOT is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th of Tishrei as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. A Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “hut, ” Sukkot refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest as well.


Ethiopian Jewish Sukkot Celebration!

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A beautiful Bnei Menashe sukkah in Mizoram, in northeast India.

Sukkot reminds us how fleeting and fragile is all that we treasure in God’s world. On Yom Kippur we recited Yizkor, the memorial prayer. A certain kind of deep learning begins in loss but cannot end there. On Sukkot we gather up our fears and failures, and boldly build a hut on shifting ground. We are not forever, but we are here now to grab life with both hands. ~ Rabbi Wolpe

On Sukkot, we leave the comfort of our permanent homes for temporary dwellings that remind us of our journey in the desert. In honor of the holiday’s historical significance, we are commanded to dwell in temporary shelters, as our ancestors did in the wilderness. The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah.

According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or “lulav,” with two other branches, along with an “etrog,” they make up the “four species” used in holiday rituals.

 Serigraph: Time of Our Joy by Lynn Feldman

 


Rabbi Capers Funnye talks about Global Judaism at Sukkot gathering.

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The Sukkah in Kurdistan: Movable Feast: Sukkahs from Around the World, 2003 exhibit, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

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The Sukkah in the Desert: Movable Feast: Sukkahs from Around the World, 2003 exhibit, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The world goes around. The seasons come and go. The festivals seem to repeat themselves. Yet the message is clear. With all our differences – we are the same. With all our similarities, we are different. With all our uniqueness – we sit in one Sukkah, the same one wherever we go. And in it, we realize we are all G-dly souls, destined to work on ourselves, to grow and fulfill G-d’s wishes. Next to G-d, however – next to Infinity, we are all exactly the same. ~Rabbi Eliyahu Shear 

 May All Of Us Be Listened To & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported – In the coming year.

Tizku L’Shanim Rabot ~ May You Merit Many Years!

Graphic courtesy of moadesign.com

Pomegranates are traditionally eaten on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. They are a popular choice because Israel is often praised for its pomegranates and because, according to legend, pomegranates contain 613 seeds – one for each of the 613 mitzvot. Another reason for eating pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah has to do with the symbolic hope that our good deeds in the coming year will be as many as the seeds of the fruit. King Solomon is said to have designed his crown based on the “crown” of the pomegranate

Crown of a Pomegranate

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Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson, Track: B’Rosh Hashana featuring Lynette

L’Shanah Tovah! 

NACOEJ Limudiah Student in Rishon LeZion

What is a Shofar?

…In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

How is a Shofar made?

Shofar Shogood!!!

“May it be Your Will That Our Merits Increase Like The Black-Eyed Peas.”

Sephardic Black-eyed Peas

1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, or 3-4 cups frozen black-eyed peas cooked according to directions on package

5 cups water 1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika salt and pepper and cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To prepare the peas: pick them over, getting rid of any pebbles and   broken or discolored peas. Soak them 8 hours or overnight in water to cover; or put them in a saucepan with a quart of water, bring to boil, boil uncovered 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand one hour. Drain and rinse the peas. Put them into a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook about 1 1/2 hours (or until tender) over low heat. Drain the peas, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. (I’d reserve more to be on the safe side; this doesn’t seem like enough to me.) Put drained peas into a medium saucepan. Mix the reserved cooking liquid with the tomato paste and add it to the pot. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onion, and saute over medium head, stirring often, about five minutes. (She uses a non-stick skillet; you might need more oil with a regular skillet.) When the onion begins to brown, add a tablespoon of water and saute until the onion is deeply browned. Then add the onion to the pea pot, cover, and gently heat for five minutes. Add half the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve it sprinkled with the other half the cilantro. Beth Greenfeld.

Indian Rabbi in Israel blowing the shofar
Photograph courtesy of
Life Magazine -Your World in Pictures

May all of us be Listened to & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported in the coming year

Ben Sidran: Life’s A Lesson: Track: Avinu Malkeinu featuring Lynette

 

“Contrary to the belief of some, the Jews are a multiracial, multi-ethnic group. But it should not be surprising that Judaism’s 4,000-year-old creed spans geography as well as time, or that its message appeals to members of all races, on all continents.” ~Karen Primrack, Author, Under One Canopy

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 The Jewish People embody a spectacular bouquet of cultural characteristics which enriches our lives immeasurably. 

 

 10 Tips Toward Racial & Cultural Sensitivity in the Jewish Community

1 ~ Reach out to other Jews across difference because you will find our commonalities exceed our differences by far.

2 ~ Do not assume that Jewish history and the current Jewish population is comprised most significantly of Jews of European culture ancestry.

3 ~ Consider that within the customs and traditions of the Jewish people, there is a great diversity of language, culture, custom and color. Be willing to reach for and stay connected to the diversity of the Jewish people.

4 ~ Do not assume that because a person has dark skin that they must be a convert. This is not necessarily true or fair to individuals that have been Jewish all of their lives.

5 ~ Learn to value the “inner” Jew in yourself so that you can better appreciate it in others.

6 ~ Get to know the customs and traditions of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa and welcome this knowledge as a necessary component of your Jewish education.

7 ~ If you find a person’s journey around difference to be inspiring, be it their color, background, abilities, culture, traditions, etc., try not to limit your praise of them to their being “inspiring”.Tell them what about them inspires you specifically.

8 ~ Remember that it’s o.k. to be curious, but to become fascinated with a person because of an aspect of their physicality ALONE, is to turn that person into an object in your regard. Make efforts to make your relationships with people who are different than you, more than skin deep.

9 ~ Keep in mind that Jews of Color have a lot to offer the Jewish community, both in experience and perspective and should be welcomed to participate in all levels of Jewish social interaction, including leadership.

10 ~ Remember that denial is not just a river in Egypt (smile), it can also be an obstacle toward finding lasting solutions. When we sit with the things inside us that make us the most uncomfortable, we often find deeper truth and growth on the other side. ~Courtesy of Ayecha http://www.ayecha.org/

Olam Echad! Hashem Echad! Ha’am Echad!

Lev Echad means One Heart in Hebrew and is symbolic of Jewish unity. We are allowed to think and observe differently than one another, but we must always act decently toward each other.


“One Love, One Heart. Let’s get together and feel all right.”

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May all of us be listened to and embraced and welcomed and supported.

Jews of Color is a pan-ethnic term that is used to identify Jews whose family origins are originally in African, Asian or Latin-American countries. Jews of Color may identify as Black, Latino/a, Asian-American or of mixed heritage such as biracial or multi-racial.

Due to several factors, Mizrachi and Sephardi Jews from North African and Arab lands vary in whether or not they self-identify as “Jews of Color.”

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“The Jewish experience is built upon foundations of diversity as old as the Jewish people, a reality that may be lost to many Jews who tend to think of other Jews as being only like themselves. The historical home of the Jews lies at the geographic crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Jews are an amalgam of many peoples and Jewish origins include a multitude of languages, nations, tribes, and skin colors.” ~The History of Jewish Diversity/ Be’chol Lashon

multiracial

The first show of its kind, Jews of Color explores the cultural and ethnic diversity of the Jewish community, sharing the unique perspectives of Jews from African-American, Asian, Hispanic and other non-”white” backgrounds. Defying our collective assumptions about what it means to be a Jew, and shedding light on perspectives that are too often ignored by the broader Jewish community, Jews of Color is not to be missed.

Featuring: host Joel Sanchez (Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services), Aliza Hausman (Blogger, “Memoirs of a Jewminicana”), Akira Ohiso (Author, “Survivor”), Yitz Jordan a.k.a. Y-Love (Rapper, Writer, Activist), and Yavilah McCoy (Jewish educator, Diversity Practitioner, and Founder of Ayecha Jewish Diversity Resources).

“The most powerful thing I want to happen in the Jewish community is that we gain more space of love for one another…”~Yavilah McCoy

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At The Kaleidoscope Project, Vanessa Hidary: Kaleidoscope Founder, Producer, Director and Kendell Pinkney: Associate Producer, are driven by their desire to empower fellow Jews of diverse racial, ethnic, and interfaith backgrounds by giving them the space and tools to tell their own stories. KALEIDOSCOPE. Vivid Reflections – Boldly Diverse – Distinctly Jewish.

KALEIDOSCOPE is a narrative-arts driven initiative that was sparked by a desire to highlight the stories of Jews of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, observance levels, and interfaith experiences. Given the increasing diversity of the greater Jewish community, we feel that highlighting the complex, personal stories of diverse Jewish voices through “edu-tainment” is critically important. As we look to expand our initiative (i.e., developing a KALEIDOSCOPE diversity curriculum for Jewish communities, expanding our presence online, broadening our impact within New York and the northeast) we seek to collaborate with partner organizations in order to create a more complete picture of the diversity that already exists within klal yisrael.

Stop being so Ashkenormative!

by Larry Yudelson, The Times of Israel, December 10, 201515-2-F-hebrew-mamita-635x357

Woody Allen had it easy.

A Jewish mother, a slice of herring, a dab of gefilte fish jelly, a shmear of Martin Buber, and a put-down of mayonnaise on white bread for a punch line. Everyone knew what the Jewish menu and the Jewish joke looked like, 50 years ago.

It was never that simple, of course. New York mythology aside, not all Jews left Russia between 1880 and 1923. And not all Jews spoke Yiddish. But ask around in Syrian communities in New York City and you’ll hear stories of grandparents from Damascus and Aleppo whose Jewishness met with stares of disbelief. “How could you be Jewish if you don’t speak Jewish?” that is, Yiddish, they were asked by their Ashkenazic neighbors.

That was then. Now you can dismiss your Litvak zeidie’s ignorant arrogance with a high-falutin’ put-down: Oh, he’s being Ashkenormative again. A lot of consciousness has been raised in the past decade and half on how much the Jewish community constricted itself with unspoken, unquestioned assumptions about Jews looking a certain way, acting a certain way, eating a certain away. In a multicultural age, it began to make sense that there are lots of Jewish cultures.

And at the forefront of that consciousness raising, holding the mic and posting spoken-word videos to YouTube, was Vanessa Hidary, the self-styled Hebrew Mamita, who will perform at Temple Emeth in Teaneck this Shabbat afternoon.

Ms. Hidary grew up in a Jewishly diverse family – her mother from Syrian stock, her father Ashkenazic. Her grandmother had come from Aleppo, where she never would have heard the term “gefilte fish” – which, after all, is simply how you say “stuffed fish” in Yiddish.

She grew up not in the Lower East Side, or in Jewish Brooklyn, but in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, at 88th and Columbus. She’s a bit vague about exactly when, but has described it as during the “hip-hop era.” She went to a local public school and her best friend was a Puerto Rican whose parents owned the corner bodega. Ms. Hidary discovered what it was like to be seen sometimes as Jewish and sometimes as not. She didn’t always like what she heard people say about Jews when they thought she wasn’t one.

She graduated from the LaGuardia High School of the Arts, studied at Hunter College, and earned an M.F.A. in acting.

When it was time to put on a performing persona, to venture to the East Village performance spaces and even the famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe, she dubbed herself the Hebrew Mamita because, she said, “I wanted to represent my neighborhood and how I grew up. I grew up with a very strong Latino culture around me. Mamita is a term of endearment.”

The performance she will bring to Teaneck centers on “modern Jewish identity and race relations, my experience growing up- plus a q-and-a afterward.” Her career has taken her well past New Jersey; she has performed from Alabama to Jerusalem.

“I do sessions that deal with the basics of what does Jewish look like to you. I talk about Jewish living outside the box,” she said.

“When I was growing up, people didn’t know that much about Sephardic Jews, about Jews of different cultures and races. I think the Internet has changed that a lot. They’re starting to have a bigger presence, and the Jewish community is changing. The community is becoming more open to having different faces.”

She can’t quite believe that it has been 15 years since she first worked with Be’chol Lashon, – Hebrew for “in every tongue” – a then-brand-new organization in San Francisco, which imagines “a new global Judaism that transcends differences in geography, ethnicity, class, race, ritual practice, and beliefs.” One of Be’chol Lashon’s premiere activities is an overnight summer camp for racially and ethnically diverse Jewish children.

Locally, Be’chol Lashon’s mission is echoed by Temple Emeth’s Viewpoints committee, which is sponsoring Ms. Hidary. The committee was “formed to celebrate the diversity of the Jewish community and includes programs that highlight the interfaith, interracial, and LGBT communities.”

Ms. Hidary promises that her performance will bring “a lot of humor mixed into poignant things to think about.”

Her latest project has placed her in the director’s chair. It’s a show called Kaleidoscope. She brought together a group of a dozen “ethnically diverse Jews, Jews of color, Sephardic Jews, and had them write their experiences growing up.”

Kaleidoscope’s creation and some performances were underwritten by grants from New York’s UJA-Federation and the 14th Street Y. Now Ms. Hidary is applying for grants to “make that show happen again and attach a curriculum to that.”

Originally posted HERE.

The remarkable story of a black African from a royal lineage in Swaziland who was raised a Christian, converted to Judaism and became a Haredi Litvish Rabbi in Israel. It begins with Rabbi Natan Gamedze’s first visit home in 16 years and traces back his extraordinary spiritual journey from Swaziland to Israel. By following Rabbi Gamedze’s journey to Judaism, this story provides an extraordinary insight into orthodox Jewish thinking from a completely different background. Along the way it gently explores race issues, pre and post apartheid.

Additional information:
http://www.rabbigamedze.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natan_Gamedze

Who Counts? Race and the Jewish Future

Ilana Kaufman, Program Officer, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment, Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco
BE INSPIRED
When Jews count themselves, it matters. So who really counts? Ilana Kaufman issues a challenge to the Jewish community on race.


Racism in the Jewish Community: The Uncomfortable Truth via ELItalks

United Colors of Judaism
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