Chanukah Party 2011 Photos and Wrap-up

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Pacific Jewish Center enjoyed another excellent Chanukah party planned and executed by Jeff Liss and his wonderful helpers. The party featured delicious Chanukah foods and treats, dreidel contests, a moon bounce for the kids, entertainment for everyone courtesy of Derek the Mime a speech from the rabbi and most of all, lovely company.

As usual, the party was open to the Pacific Jewish Center community and to the public as part of our Outreach on the Beach programming. The community was well represented with an excellent showing at the party. With our doors wide open at on Venice Boardwalk we also met and made many old and new friends. People who had been in the shul before returned this afternoon. One woman had been in the shul in the 50’s and had not been back since. Others were old friends who were part of our community for many years before moving on. It was so nice to see them all. We also met many new people. Some were local Jewish residents who had just never had a chance to come to shul and others were travelers and tourists, some Jewish and some not at all.

It was a beautiful afternoon. We thank everyone who came and who contributed to the festive and celebratory atmosphere.

If you missed the party, you can listen to my speech here: What Doomed the Hasmoneans?

And you can feel like you were there by watching the slide show below. Hopefully, next time you will be there in person.

  • Rabbi your kehilla looks like a wonderful, eclectic bunch. May you continue to “shlep nachas” from them!

  • Anonymous

    There is simply no evidence to suggest that a significant
    number of Jews successfully combined Hellenism and Torah into a worldview at
    once universalist and pious.  The Rabbis
    deemphasized the contribution of the Hasmoniam to the Chanukah story not
    because the latter was incapable of reconciling themselves to modernity but
    because the religious authorities did not want to risk linking Torah observance
    with militant and mercenary nationalism.


    Likewise, your suggestion that the Talmud’s favorable opinion
    of the Greek language, a prevailing familiarity with the natural sciences and
    Yehudah HaNasi’s friendship with Antoninus, all point to a religious
    sensibility comfortably integrated with modernity. Nothing could be further
    from the truth.


    While it is true that tractate Megillah (9a) speaks
    favorably of the Greek language, a clear distinction is made in tractate Sotah
    (49b) between Greek language and Greek wisdom. 
    This distinction is elaborated on in Bava Kamma (82b) where it is
    reported that the Rabbis cursed any man who tought his son Greek wisdom.  In further discussion (83a), it is reported
    in the name of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel that ‘a thousand young men were in the
    household of my father.  Five hundred
    studied Torah and five hundred studied Greek wisdom.’  The discrepancy is resolved by acknowledging
    that Rabban Gamliel’s household was different as its members were close to the
    Roman monarchy, necessitating their familiarity with Greek wisdom.  This also explains R’ Yehudah HaNasi’s
    intimacy with the same subject – it was a consequence of political necessity
    and not intrinsic to Torah values.  The
    same can be said for the Rabbi’s knowledge of mathematics and the natural
    sciences. Absent such knowledge, many basic institutions of Jewish life, the
    calendar, to site one obvious example, would be impossible.


    If further evidence is wanting that the Rabbis wrote the
    Hasmoneans out of the Chanukah story not because they lacked a spirit of
    modernity but because they represented an uncompromisingly brutal and
    reactionary spirit within Judaism, it can be found in the educational system
    that pious Jews established from the end of the second century BCE.  The Greek gymnasia (the forerunner to the
    modern university) was replaced with a network of religious institutions whose curriculum
    rejected any secular influence in favor of a syllabus devoted entirely to
    religious study. 


    While typical of your style, your presentation was original,
    succinct and refreshingly lacking in sentimental appeal, I felt your remarks
    were intended to provoke rather then instruct. 
    It that regard, you succeeded splendidly.