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December 7, 2010 eNewsletter

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December 7, 2010

Dear friend,

Though we're in the homestretch of the eight nights now, this eNewsletter is still celebrating the festival of lights. As the days get shorter, it's nice to take that pause each evening to light the Hanukkah candles. And, though I still feel full from the latkes I ate over the weekend, and my house still smells like they're being freshly cooked, I have no regrets. Behold the power of oil!

It's not too late to give one more Hanukkah gift—a tax-deductible one! If's cheat sheets, referral service or other resources have been helpful, or even just entertaining like our celebrity columns, please make a charitable contribution that will enable us to continue to help others. Donate now, online or by mail, at or click the button below.

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Oh Hanukkah...

Tonight's the seventh night of Hanukkah, which means there are still two more opportunities to light the menorah, spin some dreidels and eat some latkes. Not sure how to do it? Our video guide, Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah, walks you through the ritual. There, you can also find a downloadable copy of the blessings in Hebrew, English and transliteration.

And our Guide to Hanukkah for Interfaith Families covers the history of the holiday, an explanation of the rituals and includes some notes on how other families raising Jewish children have solved the December Dilemma.

Hanukkah means "dedication," but to what are the Jewish people dedicated? What did the holiday mean in the past, and how does it apply now? In other words, Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben wants to know, Why Hanukkah? (You might also take a peek at Hanukkah 2010, in which Ed Case comments on Rabbi Reuben's article, as well as USA Today's coverage of our seventh annual December Holidays Survey.)

I Had a Little Dreidel...

In Hanukkah and The American Spirit, Rabbi Howard A. Berman examines how, for Jews in the new United States, the story of Hanukkah had special resonance.

Want more Hanukkah tidbits? On our blog, we had two giant posts, For the first night of Hanukkah... and And on the Shabbat of Hanukkah..., which contain copious Hanukkah songs, videos, stories, fun facts, recipes and more. It'll keep you busy straight through the end of the eight nights.

Family Connections

How I Became Too Jewish For My Jewish Mother—it's possible? The first time Jane Larkin's mother visited after their family started a new Shabbat ritual, she thought her mother would be excited. Instead her mother said they should go out for dinner.

Interfaith Celebrities

From Nate Bloom, Interfaith Celebrities: Jewish Women of Black Swan and Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking. Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, and Barbara Hershey will likely get Oscar nods for Black Swan. Carrie Fisher's one-woman play, Wishful Drinking, comes to HBO. And The Clash, Spider-Man, and Daniel Radcliffe make bonus cameos.


Benjamin Maron, Managing Editor | P.O. Box 428, Newton, MA 02464 | 617 581 6860 |

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Hebrew for "candelabrum" or "lamp," it usually refers to the nine-branched candelabrum that is lit for the holiday of Hanukkah. (A seven-branched candelabrum, a symbol of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, is a symbol of Judaism and is included in Israel's coat of arms.) A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.
Yiddish word for a potato pancake, traditionally eaten during Hanukkah. Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation.
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