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Holiday Insights

Tu B’Shevat: Not the Jewish Arbor Day

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Some Jewish festivals seem to adopt certain characteristics of secular holidays. Tu B’Shevat is one of them, even though it possesses a more complex history, a deeper meaning and a heightened spirituality. Sometimes confused with Arbor Day, Rachael delves into this common misconception.

How to play the Dreidel Game

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Here is a fun one for you.

Ruth: The First Jewish Convert

Monday, May 17th, 2010

On the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, we read from the Book of Ruth, a story about  Ruth, an ancient Noabite and her mother-in-law Naomi, an ancient Israelite. The story goes deeper to explain how and why Ruth essentially becomes a “Jew by Choice” and becomes accepted into the community.

Using Mussar During Passover Prep - Rachael’s Reflection VLOG - March 25

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Rachael offers a suggestion on how to use Mussar to help with all the organizing and stress of cooking, cleaning and preparing for Passover.

What Does an Egg Have to Do With Passover?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

“What is on the Seder Plate” takes you around the plate and explains the meaning and purpose for each object. Whether this is your first Passover or thirtieth Passover, you’re still bound to have a ‘aha’ moment after watching this video.

Selling Your Chametz

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

As Passover approaches, the question of how to sell our Chametz (bread products), and why are we allowed to sell it.

What do I Need for my Passover Seder Table?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Rachael walks through the different items you’ll need in order to have a Passover Seder.

Selling your Chametz - Rachael’s Video Reflection VLOG - March 23

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

As Passover approaches, Rachael looks at the question of why some Jewish people sell their Chametz (bread products) and also offers an alternative idea of what you can do with all that Chametz.

Some Tu B’Shevat Insights for You

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Chrismukkah - huh??!!

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Wow, my head is spinning a bit - like a dreidel - not like a Christmas tree ornament, as far as I know they’re not supposed to spin.  Christmas tree ornaments shine, sparkle they might twirl a bit if someone rushes by and a sudden gust of air sways them but you do not yank one off the tree, hold it by a fragile end and have a room cheering you as you try to spin it on the floor.  I’d venture to say it would break and everyone in the room would be offended that you treated a religious symbol of Christmas in such a disrespectful way!  I would agree!  Christmas tree ornaments should stay on the Christmas tree where they can speak meaningfully to those who chose them carefully and look forward to the memories they evoke each year as the tree is decorated.  Christmas is a holiday that has its own message of profound importance to Christians.  I am Jewish and I am offended at the thought of spinning anything Christmasee as if it were a dreidel.

I am profoundly offended by Chrismukkah!  For those of you who are not familiar with this term or its significance (as I was until very recently), Chrismukkah is the hybrid celebration of Chanukah and Christmas.  I assume it is aimed at interfaith families or anyone who isn’t connected to any particular faith but wants a good celebration nonetheless.  Chrismukkah betrays both Judaism and Christianity while it invites everyone in with the sole purpose of partying.

Chanukah bears a powerful message of Jewish identity, unity and creativity while not compromising on Jewish expression because the world outside thinks you should.  Chrismukkah offends these Jewish messages.  Christmas speaks to a Christian of redemption, salvation and hope with the birth of a Christian saviour.  Chrismukkah offends these Christian messages also.

I understand the challenge of political correctness and family celebrations where there are multiple faiths within one family.  I urge anyone in these positions to find a way to maintain the integrity of each faith - especially if your intention is to engage your children with their spirituality - teach them the distinctiveness of faith expressions, not the insultingly superficial party side of it.

Interesting, Chrismukkah itself hasn’t been around all that long and it’s already headed the way of commercialization - watch this video and see how a hybrid of offense is used as a marketing bonanza.

Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah

I’m not usually so negative about things but with the world the way it is these days, shouldn’t we be thinking of ways to help each other respect another view rather than trash them all?

It is Chanukah right now - celebrate it and enjoy.  In a short time, when Dec. 25 rolls round and if you have Christian friends, make sure to wish them a Merry Christmas, forget the Merry Mazel-tovs.