Chanukah Archive

Make Your Chanukah Festive and Don’t Fight the Holiday Spirit

♫ “It’s the most awkward time of the year.” ♫ For Orthodox Jews, and to a lesser extent, non-Orthodox Jews, the “Holiday Season” is certainly the most awkward time of the year. Everyone around us is in a super festive mood, lights and colors of the season are everywhere, and everything seems…

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A 1940’s Chanukah in the Catacombs of Odessa

At the amazing Pacific Jewish Center Chanukah party yesterday, I spoke about using stories to keep our Judaism vibrant. After all, the Torah and Talmud are books of law but are replete with stories. Chanukah in particular is only told through stories as it is not mentioned in Tanach and…

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Was Assimilation the True Enemy of the Maccabees?

The purists insist that Chanukah is a holiday that celebrates a victory against assimilation. They find this ironic because Chanukah is celebrated by so many assimilated Jews who don’t even realize that they are celebrating a holiday about winning a war against their spiritual ancestors. In Haaretz I argued that…

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The Meaning of Chanukah Can Be Different for Different People

This article was originally published on It is reproduced with their permission here: Hanukkah has become an iconic holiday. In many ways, it has become as well known and popular as Christmas. But what exactly is its message? The origins of Hanukkah are mired in obscurity. The rabbis of the…

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A Pithy Tweet for Chanukah

We celebrate Chanukah with fire, the most basic ingredient of growth, also destruction. Religion follows the same pattern. Use both wisely. — Eliyahu Fink (@efink) November 27, 2013 That’s my message for Chanukah 5774 distilled into 140 characters.

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Why Do We Celebrate Chanukah?

It’s understandable that Orthodox Judaism is reluctant to endorse academic approaches to Torah. The basic assumptions of Orthodox Judaism are in direct opposition to the basic assumptions of academic research. We believe God gave the Torah. We believe the Oral Law is the interpretation of the written Torah and it…

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The Chanukah Story: A Cautionary Tale of Extremism Gone Wrong

One of the anomalies of Chanukah is that we have historical and apocryphal texts along with rabbinic texts. We have a pretty reliable idea of what life was like when the Chanukah story took place. I think the context of the story sheds light on the far reaching consequences of…

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Hasmonean Coin
Chanukah 2011 Address: What Doomed the Hasmoneans?

Hasmonean Coin In case you are wondering what I said at the Chanukah party, wonder no more. You can listen to my 20+ minute address right here on the blog. Just click the play button at the bottom of this post. I spoke about the fatal flaw that doomed the…

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Chanukah and Separation of Church and State

Separation of Church and State is widely regarded as a modern concept. For most of the world this is an accurate assessment. In some places in the world there remains no separation. What I mean by a separation between church and state is that quite simply there are two different…

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PJC Chanukah Party 2010 | Rabbi’s Speech

The Chanukah party at the Shul on the Beach was a great success. As usual, its success was due to the hard work and dedication of Jeff Liss (and others). Many community members enjoyed the party and many newcomers walked in off the boardwalk to partake in the festivities. The…

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The Most Famous Chanukah Song | Jewish Holiday Music

This song was more popular when I was a kid. Back when Adam Sandler used to be funny. In those days of yore, Sandler used to sing songs that were mildy funny and usually entertaining. One of those songs was the now famous Chanukah song. With its pop culture references,…

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How Do You Spell Chanukah? The LeeVees | Jewish Holiday Music

Tonight the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah, Chanuka, Hanukah, Hanukkah begins. Happy Chanukah, Chanuka, Hanukah, Hanukkah. No this is not an SEO trick. And no there is no official spelling either. It’s a song hint… Everywhere you go, you hear holiday music. There is a dearth of decent Jewish Holiday music.…

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Hanukkah in Santa Monica

I have had the privilege of spending this and last Chanukah as the Rabbi of Pacific Jewish Center. We are located right on the edge of Venice near the Santa Monica border. Many of our Shul members live in Santa Monica. So, it is fair to say I have spent…

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PJC Chanukah Party 2009 Address

As part of the festivities of our Chanukah Party on the beach, I addressed the attended with a speech on Chanukah and this week’s parsha, Miketz. It was an addendum to my Shabbos drasha, which I hope to publish shortly. Enjoy the class. Audio is below. All audio classes are…

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My Chanukah Message To You: Light Knows No Friend or Foe

This was the main message of my sermon for the first Shabbos Chanukah. I hope to publish the sermon in its entirety in the coming days. I would like to share with you an important message that strikes me as central to Chanukah and in particular to Chanukah in 2009.…

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Photo: NY Times
A New Chanukah Message

Photo: NY Times More discussion on DovBear: Click here. A cute news item has been circulating the Jewish internets recently. I have seen links to the NY Times story on Twitter, Facebook, VIN and YWN. I was tipped off by my friend who works at YU media relations. The NY…

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It's A Small World After All

Every once in a while I head to our Shul on the Beach on a Sunday afternoon to drum up some business. I hang out on the Venice Boardwalk hoping to meet anyone interested in our shul or Judaism. I show interested passers-by the shul, sometimes we take a picture,…

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