9 Things You Didn’t Know About Hanukkah
BY MJL STAFF
Lesser-known facts about the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah , which in 2017 starts at sundown on Tuesday, December 12, is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays in the United States. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing new to learn about this eight-day festival. From the mysterious origins of gelt to an Apocryphal beheading to Marilyn Monroe, we’ve compiled an item for each candle (don’t forget the shammash!) on the Hanukkah menorah .
1. Gelt as we know it is a relatively new tradition — and no one knows who invented it.
Origins of Hanukkah
From History.com. This video is highlighted in our Hanukkah Guide. Find more great videos, articles, crafts, and recipes in our Hanukkah Guide.
Hanukkah celebrates the triumph of Jewish people over religious persecution.
The eight-day Jewish celebration known as Hanukkah or Chanukah commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and usually falls in November or December. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts.
Jewish Prayer for the Sick: Mi Sheberakh
BY RABBI SIMKHA Y. WEINTRAUB for myjewishlearning.com
A healing prayer for when a loved one is suffering.
One of the central Jewish prayers for those who are ill or recovering from illness or accidents is the Mi Sheberakh. The name is taken from its first two Hebrew words. With a holistic view of humankind, it prays for physical cure as well as spiritual healing, asking for blessing, compassion, restoration, and strength, within the community of others facing illness as well as all Jews, all human beings.
Traditionally, the Mi Sheberakh is said in synagogue when the Torah is read. If the patient herself/himself cannot be at services, a close relative or friend might be called up to the Torah for an honor, and the one leading services will offer this prayer, filling in the name of the one who is ill and her/his parents. Many congregations sing the version of the Mi Sheberakh written by Debbie Friedman, a popular Jewish folk musician who focused on liturgical music. (That version can heard in the video, and its lyrics read, at the top of this article.)
Do Jews Believe In Angels?
BY MJL STAFF
These supernatural beings appear widely throughout Jewish texts.
Angels are supernatural beings that appear widely throughout Jewish literature.
The Hebrew word for angel, mal’ach, means messenger, and the angels in early biblical sources deliver specific information or carry out some particular function. In the Torah, an angel prevents Abraham from slaughtering his son Isaac, appears to Moses in the burning bush and gives direction to the Israelites during the desert sojourn following the liberation from Egypt. In later biblical texts, angels are associated with visions and prophesies and are given proper names.
Later rabbinic and kabbalistic sources expand on the concept of angels even further, describing a broad universe of named angels with particular roles in the spiritual realm.
The Many Ways to "Look" Jewish
BY RABBI RACHEL M. SOLOMIN for myjewishlearning.com
The Jewish world is more ethnically and racially diverse than many people realize.
While the majority of American Jews are of Eastern European descent, that's not the case in Israel and France. From Ethiopian to Sephardic, learn about the many types of Jews.