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Hanukkah

My son has a very ordinary-for-his-age obsession with stuffed animals. Little (and some not-so-little) animals have been placed lovingly in every corner of his room. When we leave the house, we bring as many as we can carry. That’s why my mother and I were shocked on Hanukkah, when my little boy took a stuffed bear out of the Hanukkah gift bag and unwrapped him from the Hanukkah blue tissue paper in which he’d been carefully wrapped. My son gave a quick glance at the bear, dressed in a kippah and tallit, and simply said “No,” shoving it back in the bag.

After the shock wore off, my...

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The White House hosted its annual Hanukkah party last night, inviting representatives from the American Jewish community - including senior staff of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, pictured above - to join the first family in celebrating the Festival of Lights.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who lit the menorah, told the audience, "I have always celebrated Hanukkah together with my family and grandchildren, but if I must be away, I am pleased that it will be in the USA, alongside our strongest and closest ally." Watch video of the ceremony on C-SPAN.

Also...

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When German Jews arrived in the United States in the middle of the 19th century, they devoted scant time to Hanukkah and directed more attention to Christmas. They perceived this as a way to identify as Americans, to culturally assimilate, and to advance in American society.

Beginning in the 1850s, the Jewish press repeatedly charged that many Jews did not celebrate Hanukkah and that some even lost sight of when it occurred during a given year. This lack of focus and shift in level of observance was not overlooked by the rabbis and leaders of the Reform Movement in the United...

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It’s the fourth day of Hanukkah and already my hanukkiyah is covered in wax. It drips down the arms and covers the base and gets stuck where the candles are supposed to be placed. It needs to be cleaned, so I’ll clean it

This year, the world lost someone who was very special to me - someone who was a mentor to me, but also a friend. Someone who I cared for, and who cared for me. Her name was Vicki, and she worked at URJ Camp Harlam with me, but I feel like calling us “coworkers” does a disservice both to our relationship and to the work we did.

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Early on, helping our young daughter Michal to experience her Jewishness was surprisingly easy. As a sociologist, but especially as a mom, I marveled at the many clever traditions that serve to perpetuate Judaism across generations: the hypnotic glow of Shabbat candles, the snappy holiday melodies, afikomen-hunting on Pesach, dressing up in silly Purim costumes, and the delicious taste of our weekly challah.

Propped up on the couch the first Shabbat she could chew on a hunk of challah, Michal gobbled up as much of it as she could. “Hey,” I thought, “maybe this religious upbringing...

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