The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah began on Sunday evening, and you may have noticed your friends sharing pictures and videos of their Hanukkah festivities.
Hanukkah is a joyous celebration, and a popular Jewish festival. It is my kids’ favorite holiday, and for good reason! Who doesn’t love eight days of food, family and gifts?
Hanukkah is also one of the few Jewish observances those who aren’t Jewish (or connected to Judaism in some way) are familiar with, yet, despite the popularity of the holiday, many do not understand the full meaning and history behind Hanukkah.
As a Jew, and a mom, who cares about educating the world about Judaism, in hopes this might make others more tolerant and prevent antisemitism, I wanted to write this post to explain a bit more about Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is almost here, and I can already smell the latkes and see my kids smiling from all the holiday fun.
If your family is like mine, your kids are already looking forward to Hanukkah, and you are ready to make some special memories.
To help families embrace and share the joy of The Festival of Lights, PJ Library has updated its “Hanukkah Hub” for 2021 to bring Jewish and Interfaith families games, projects, recipes and more ways to make this year’s holiday one the family will cherish for years to come.
Lag B’Omer is a lesser-known Jewish celebration, which commerorates the 33rd day of the Omer, or time between the Jews leaving Egypt and their receiving of the Torah 40 days later.
So, what’s so special about the 33rd day, and why do we honor this occasion?
The answer depends on who you ask. However, many scholars believe Lag B’Omer is observed because, according to the Talmud, during the Omer, the esteemed sage Rabbi Akiva’s students were killed by the thousands, on all the days, save for the 33rd one.
Yikes! Seems like a dark reason for a celebration, but hey, have you seen pretty much every other Jewish festival? Celebrating not getting killed is our bread and butter, or bagel and schmear, if you prefer.
Costumes, treats, permission to make random noise? No wonder kids love Purim so much!
Indeed, Purim is an exciting and fun-filled holiday, and the story of Esther risking her life to save her people is an intriguing and adventurous tale, but parents of young children may worry that the more “adult” themes of the Book of Esther are too advanced for their kids.
Passover is one of my favorite times of year because I get to gather with my family to participate in a seder lead by my father. I enjoy the communal spirit in partaking in rituals observed by our ancestors and passing on these traditions to my children.
Given the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States and health organizations advising everyone to take extra precautions to avoid getting sick or passing on germs to others, you may be anxious about how you will spend your Passover.
Maybe you had a big trip planned to Israel and now have to observe the holiday at home. Maybe you’re living in a containment zone and can no longer host the big seder you planned. Or, maybe, you are just anxious and can’t prepare for the holiday the way you normally would.
Whatever the reason, even during this time, we can still find ways to have a meaningful Passover, while still keeping our families and loved ones safe.
Keep reading for my tips, and feel free to share yours in the comments. Continue reading →
If you are Jewish (or have at least a few Jewish friends), you probably saw a lot of stuff about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Indeed, those two holidays are, in my estimation, the most widely observed among the Jewish people, with Yom Kippur, in particular, holding a good deal of weight.
Lesser known among non-Jews, and even among more secular Jews, is the holiday of Sukkot, which is a shame because it is pretty awesome.
Sukkot is an eight-day-long festival celebrating the harvest and remembering the time when the Jewish people were wandering from Egypt to Israel. This last part is honored today by the practice of building a sukkah — a temporary hut, usually crafted from simple materials with branches and other natural material used for a “roof.”
As a child, I loved decorating my family’s sukkah with tinsel, garlands and other various items my parents have gathered over the years. Now as a mom, I am enjoying passing on this tradition with my own children. I love that is a chance for us to come together as a family to build something we can all share.
During Sukkot, families such as mine will eat, relax and enjoy time with family in the Sukkah. For kids this is a really cool experience, and makes family meals a special time. Some people even sleep in the Sukkah, to get the full feel of what it might have been like for the Jews in the wilderness. My family has never done this, as unlike in the Middle Eastern desert, this time of year gets pretty chilly where we live!
Sukkot is a wonderful time to connect with family, and, because we spend a lot of it outside, it is a great time to connect with nature as well. Continue reading →
Jews around the world are preparing for one of our faith’s most fun holidays. Purim is the celebration of the Jewish people’s triumph over an evil tyrant, hell-bent on our destruction (yes, I realize this sounds like most of our holidays).
Purim is often celebrated with costumes, games and, of course, food.
Traditionally, on Purim Jews will consume a triangle-shaped treat known as hamantaschen. These delicious cookies are commonly filled with apricot, strawberry or other fruit jams. However, if you are chocolate lover like me, ordinary jelly isn’t going to cut it.
This year, I wanted to take my hamantaschen to another level, so I decided to experiment with a Nutella ganache filling. I won’t lie, there was a lot of trial and error, but I think the final result turned out delicious (even if not every cookie turned out picture perfect). Continue reading →
I’m a minimally observant Jew, and also a mother to two young children, which means my time to sit and focus on prayer is sparse and sporadic. When I do “pray,” I’m mostly thinking of stuff I’d like to happen for myself or my family. Even though these things may be selfless in nature, I realize this isn’t exactly praying, but more like wishful thinking.
I was doing a whole lot of asking and not a lot of thanking. And, considering how many wonderful blessings have filled my life, I definitely had a good deal of gratitude to express. Like most of us, however, I got caught up in what I didn’t have instead of being grateful for what I already got. I wasn’t praying fully.
Yes, prayer can serve to ask for what we want. There’s nothing wrong with setting intentions and verbalizing your desires. I know this does wonders for people, and can be a powerful way to set you on your to achieving your dreams. However, this is not the true purpose of prayer.
The purpose of prayer is gratitude. Gratitude toward a power greater than ourselves. Gratitude toward G-d. Gratitude in even our darkest times. Continue reading →
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