"As we celebrate Hanukkah 5771, we also begin to wind up the first decade of the 21st century, and what a decade it has been. America went to war and remains so to this day. Israel and the Palestinians are still unable to make peace. The economy, both at home and in most of the developed world, is shaky, with most of us still wondering exactly how close we came to another Great Depression, and some still waiting for the other shoe to drop...."
"...Most of us, Jewish or not, have some knowledge of the story of brave, strong Judah Maccabee fighting to liberate the Temple in Jerusalem. But do we recall that he was a small town boy with few material or institutional resources at his disposal when he began his career? In all likelihood there was little special about Judah and his family until circumstance and their own determination presented them with a challenge which they saw as an opportunity.
"Hanukkah has many meanings and has celebrated many different values over the years — military victory, political independence, religious freedom, reunification with God, the capacity of people to create their own destiny, the ultimate victory of good over evil, and many more. But through it all was the lighting of the Menorah and its promise that light could be found at even the darkest of times. Now a rabbi in Indiana is living that message in a profound and moving way...."
"...It feels that with every passing day of the last decade, our personal lives, like the Hanukkah top known as a dreidel, spun faster and faster. That's the world of Hanukkah 5771, one which needs Hanukkah and the opportunity it provides ─ to remember, reconnect, and renew..."
"The Israeli government's Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill on Sunday, which would protect all people who have converted to Judaism under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces and the conversion course which it sponsors. Why this bill should even be necessary and who sponsored it are two of the almost tragic ironies of religious life in the modern Jewish State and the ways in which Diaspora Jews relate to it..."
"...I also appreciate that being thankful can be challenging in difficult times, whether the challenges are related to finances, health, or relationships. But it's precisely when we find ourselves in challenging circumstances that thankfulness is especially valuable and helpful..."
This Hanukkah, remember, reconnect and renew.
That’s what Hanukkah has always been about, and it’s a message we need now as much as ever—maybe even more.
Like a dreidel, both our world and our lives spin faster and faster. And like the dreidel, they often feel random and even out of control.
"Developers of the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque,’ also known as Park 51, are seeking federal funds designated for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan. And like most issues in the ongoing controversy around this project, the loudest voices on both sides are getting it wrong..."
"...Perhaps with "Jewish jokes", as with all ethnic humor, the best result is that it neither bothers us nor delights us. Perhaps that what it means to feel normal in one's ethnic particularity, at least in a world in which it is safe to be that ethnicity..."
"...A few weeks ago...UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) voted 44 to one that ‘Bilal bin Rabah Mosque — Rachel’s Tomb’ was “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories...Rabbi Kula told The Jewish Week ... ‘Are we closer to peace now that UNESCO did this? I ask Palestinians, was this helpful? I ask the Jews, when we finish with our anger, will we be closer to peace or further away?