Holiday Thoughts

Some Reflections on the year 2020

December 31, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“Ezra enacted for the Jewish people that they should read the curses that are recorded in Vayikra before Shavuot and [the curses] of Devarim before Rosh Hashanah. What is the reason? Abaye, and some say it was Reish Lakish, said: In order that the year may end together with its curses” (Megillah 31b). While the above is said regarding the lead-up to Rosh Hashanah, there are...
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Asara b'Tevet and Christmas

December 25, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For better or worse, in the minds of many—Jew and non-Jew alike—Chanukah and Christmas are two sides of a similar, if not the same, coin. Chanukah is often identified as the mechanism by which Jews celebrate the holiday season, and Christmas as the way in which gentile society celebrates. With so many peoples of other cultures, faiths, and no faith living in the West, the focus at this time of year is often less of a religious nature...
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Chanukah: Clothes Make the Man

December 18, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
There is no more powerful symbol than light in our tradition. It is how we usher in the Shabbat, march down the wedding aisle, mark the yahrzeit of a loved one. Light is the symbol of spirituality which, unlike matters physical, is not diminished when shared. Our spiritual legacy endures long after our physical demise. Our Torah is “Torah Ohr”, the Light of Torah, uniting generations past with those not yet born....
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Chanukah: Back to the Future

December 14, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Mai Chanukah? What is Chanukah? the Talmud (Shabbat 21ba) queries, a question we find with respect to no other holiday. The Talmud explains that Chanukah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days, allowing the needed time to prepare fresh pure oil. However, in reciting al hanissim during davening and birchat hamazon, the focus is very different. Here the miracle of Chanukah is...
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Shmini Atzeret: A Dual Holiday

October 09, 2020 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Jewish holidays have two distinct themes. The shalosh regalim, three pilgrim festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, occurring at key agricultural seasons, are a time to reflect on our material blessings, specifically in the land of Israel. Concurrently, these same holidays commemorate the formative historical events in the founding of our nation, affording an opportunity to reflect on the mission of the Jewish people. Rosh...
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