the miracle of chanukah

Home for the Holidays

(I know it’s August but I couldn’t shake this idea.)

Bitty knew this would happen eventually. He and Holster had been dating for months now, and they’d been friends for almost two years before that.

Bitty knew that at some point he would meet Adams family, hell, Holster met his mama his freshman year and met Coach this past parents weekend.

But he met them as Bitty’s friend and teammate, not his /boyfriend/.

And it was just his parents, not his ENTIRE! FAMILY!

You see, mama and coach decided to spend the holidays in Paris as an anniversary gift to one another, which meant Bitty was stuck in Samwell for the Holidays, that was until his sweet as can be boyfriend invited him to spend the break with him in Buffalo.

“It will be your first Chanukah!” Adam had smiled so brightly that Bitty couldn’t help but agree.

It was only now, as they pulled into the driveway of Holsters childhood home, that it hit Bitty what this visit meant.

He’d seen Meet The Fockers enough times to know how badly this could go.

And he really wanted this to go well. He loves Adam, he wants his family to love him.

The Burkholtz residence was quite the picture, with an 8ft tall menorah in the front yard and lights shaped like Dreidels hanging from the roof.

Adam rubbed the back of his neck and sheepishly laughed, “yeah my dad was sick of being the only house not lit up during the holidays so he went on a Home Depot trip and supped up the house. He’s very proud of it.”

Bitty giggled, “I love it! It’s beautiful!”

“Please tell him that, he may love you forever.”

Bitty laughed around the nervous lump in his throat and followed Adam up to the door. Holster took his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. He raised his hand to knock on the door, but before his fist could collide with the wood, it opened, and a woman a little shorter and rounder than Bitty with bright Auburn hair nearly tears the door off its hinges.

“My schmoopie!!!!! Oh look it’s my big man!!” The woman shouts and engulfs Adam in a hug.

“Hi mom” he grins and hugs her back.

She pulls away and looks at Bitty, “Oh and you must be Eric!!”

Bitty reaches out a hand for her to shake, but it is completely ignored and he is pulled into an equally fierce hug.

“It’s so wonderful to have you! My Adam has told me all about you!”

Bitty grins as he is pulled away from the hug, “oh has he now? Good things I hope! Nice to meet you Mrs Birkholtz!”

“Mrs Birkholtz is my mother in law, please call me Debbie.”

“Well thanks for having me Debbie.” Eric smiles politely.

“Are you kidding me! My son tells me the love of his life is put out on the holidays you think I’m not going to feed him? When you are in this house, you’re family!” She exclaims, “speaking of which get on inside! You must be freezing your little tushes off!”

Bitty then meets Adam’s dad Daniel, who looks like how Bitty imagines Holster will in 30 years, his little sisters Sarah and Hannah, and his Bubby Ruth, who reminds Bitty a lot of his Moomah.

They proceed to grill him, asking intrusive questions with the nicest smiles on their faces. Debbie tells Bitty funny baby Adam stories and Bubby Ruth breaks out baby pictures from her pocketbook.

All in all its nice and easy with the Birkholtzes. Bitty is pretty sure Debbie is mentally planning his wedding.

It’s a lot of firsts that night, the first night of Chanukah, Bitty’s first bowl of matzoh ball soup and first plate of latkes. He plays his first game of dreidel with Sarah and Hannah and he watches his first Menorah lighting.

As Bubby Ruth sings the prayer and Debbie lights the first candle, Adam leans over to whisper into Bitty’s ear, “it’s about miracles. People think Chanukah is just Jewish Christmas but it’s a festival. It celebrates a time when people tried to snuff out the light but it just wouldn’t go out.”

Bitty’s eyes widen and he listens to Bubby Ruth sing the prayer. He doesn’t understand the Hebrew, but he thinks it’s wonderful.

“That’s beautiful.” Bitty whispers back. Adam smiles and rests his chin on Eric’s shoulder, watching the flickering lights of the candle.

Later, when they’re watching the Rugrats Chanukah special, Hannah pops up off the couch and pronounces that “ITS PRESENT TIME!!!”

Daniel laughs and the entirety of the Birkholtzes scramble to their respective present hiding spots to retrieve their gifts.

Daniel gets Debbie a pair of earrings, Debbie gets Daniel a tie.

Bubby Ruth gives all of her grandchildren a crisp $5 each and a wet kiss on the cheek.

Holster gives his sisters each a new video game and they give him a 30 Rock tshirt.

Holster turns to Bitty and hands him a wrapped box.

He seems nervous, and that takes Bitty by surprise. If his boyfriend is one thing, it wasn’t shy.

Bitty looks up at him and then over his shoulder where Bubby Ruth had just sent him a wink.

He opens the box and finds a heavy binder with the title ‘Birkoltz Family Recipes’

Flipping through the pages Bitty finds they are filled with laminated copies of handwritten recipes dating back generations.

He is speechless, so Adam speaks for him.

“I got some help from my Bubby, I know you are always looking for some new recipes and things to try, and she helped me dig through some recipe boxes to find the best ones. There is a secret Birkholtz mandel bread recipe that I had to beg a few aunts to give up, but it was worth it.”

Bitty is near tears as he thumbs through the pages.

“Adam.” Bitty says trying to compose himself because he is determined not to cry in front of his boyfriends family. “Sweetheart this is the best gift I have ever received.” He sets the book down gently and kisses Holster on the cheek before engulfing him in a hug.

“Aww, Danny look at them they are so sweet! His little punim, my heart!” Debbie says behind them.

Once they part Bitty digs his present out and hands it to Holster with a look that says 'you’ll get more later’

Holster takes the small velvet box and his heart starts pounding.

Opening it, Adam shrieks.

“Two tickets to Wicked?????” Bitty laughs as Holster jumps up from the couch, “Orchestra seats???” He shouts. Adam picks up Eric and spins him around.

“You’re the best boyfriend ever!” He laughs setting Bitty down.

“Hey!” Eric teases, “that’s my line!”

Happy Hanukkah - A sufganiyah is a round jelly doughnut eaten in Israel and around the world on the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried, filled with jelly or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar. At Hanukkah, Jewish people observe the custom of eating fried foods in commemoration of the miracle associated with the Temple oil.

Chanukah Misconception

I just wanted to correct a famous misconception regarding the miracle of Chanukah. I’ve heard many people say things like “the oil burned until they could travel to procure more oil”, which is not quite so accurate. You see - the miracle was in many ways unnecessary, from a halachic (jewish law) standpoint. There was TONS of oil in the Temple aside from that flask. However, that oil was made ritually impure intentionally by the Greeks. The single flask of oil that they found - they knew it was pure because of 2 things, 1) it was hidden in the ground (and therefore wasn’t moved or shaken by the goyim, 1 way for it to become ritually impure) and 2) it was sealed with a signet with the signature of the Kohen Gadol (high priest). therefore they knew that the oil was not replaced by the greeks with impure oil. However, even if they hadn’t found the small flask of pure oil, there was PLENTY of oil that they could have lit the menorah with. The positive commandment of lighting the menorah, which says by it “Tamid”, meaning “Eternal” is that the menorah be lit every afternoon and cleaned every morning, even if there is no pure oil to be found, and even if there is nobody to be found who is ritually pure. Now, knowing that, even if there wasn’t plenty of impure oil lying around, they could have prepared more right away. However, they were all ritually impure with the impurity of a dead body (tumas meis), meaning that if they touched the oil, it would also become impure. In order to lift that impurity from themselves, they had to follow the procedure that comes with sprinkling the water of the red heifer on the 3rd and 7th day after the beginning of the process, and on the 7th day, they go to the mikvah, become pure and can then prepare the oil in ritual purity to burn on the 8th night… But They refused to do anything less than the best. They wanted to do the mitzvah in the most ideal and beautiful way, and not to even hesitate or think otherwise. Because they planned to use only the oil that was pure, even though there was only enough for 1 night, and they didn’t even consider to use the impure oil, the pure oil burned, but was not consumed, not for 8 nights. The miracle didn’t happen because it was needed. The miracle happened because G-d loves it when people go way beyond the letter of the law in fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos, and as a result, he went out of the way to show his love to his people. If it isn’t too much to ask, feel free to spread this around so people understand a bit better the depth of the miracle of Chanukah.

“More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.” -Ahad Ha’am

The Chanukah lights remind us of the Miracles of G-d, and the Shabbat candles  remind us of the joys of the Sabbath, and G-ds relationship to the Jewish people. As the lights of Shabbat symbolize the communal Jewish peoplehood, the lights of Chanukah symbolize the struggle for our identity, and that we must never give up the fight.

ANNOUNCING: The Chanukah Project

We enter the month of Kislev, which means Chanukah (also spelled as Chanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukah, חנוכה and like ten other ways) is right around the corner!

Chanukah is the eight-day Festival of Lights. It celebrates miracles twofold.

The first: During the time of the story of Chanukah, the Holy-Land was ruled over by the Seleucids, who sought to suppress the people of Israel in their religion. A small band of faithful Jews led by the family of the Maccabees defeated the much larger Seleucid army, and reclaimed the Holy Temple.

The second: To rededicate the Temple, the Maccabees sought to re-light the menorah (a seven branched candelabra) but they found there was only enough oil to burn for one night, and it would take eight days to purify more oil. Miraculously, the oil burnt for the entire eight days, so that more oil could be purified.

“Chanukah” means dedication, referring to the rededication of the Temple after desecration by the Hellenistic influences. Among the customs of celebration, which include eating foods fried in oil, and playing a top called a dreidel, is lighting on each night an additional candle on a special nine branched menorah.

Chanukah is to be celebrated publicly. All around the world, menorahs are often placed in windows so that passersby are too reminded of the miracles.

So we will celebrate Chanukah publicly here, on Tumblr.

Starting December 24th, at sundown, each night of Chanukah, I will post a picture of my Menorah, in the proper stage of lighting. I invite each of you to reblog the post, adding a picture of your Menorah for everyone to see! Or, if you want, you can just post your Menorah separately, tag it #chanukahproject or #istodayajewishholiday if you want me to see, and I’ll reblog lots of them!

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Miracle (Acoustic) by Matisyahu

Do you know what the Christmas struggle is like for a Jew (or a half-Jew, if I’m being honest?). Red and green vomited all over our city, white beards and everything smells like Pine. The Chinese food trope is true (nothing else is open! Vive year 5775 of the Horse!)

In all honesty, I’m a reasonable half-Jew  but sometimes, you’re out there, minding your own semitic business and you can’t avoid there’s the onslaught of Christmas songs and recycled covers. It just hurts, y'know? There are no songs out there for us in popular culture. Ok, there’s one, literally one. 

It’s a traged and underrepresented market, because if you think about it, as far as holidays go, Chanukah is a pretty sexy holiday; it’s eight days long, presents, fire, fried vegetables, miracles and chocolate is involved.

Anyway, back in 2010, Matisyahu did a last-minute collaboration with producer Kojak and released the radio-friendly-auto-tunedish “Miracle.” It’s got a catchy chorus but it didn’t catch off.

A few months later, Matisayhu released an acoustic version, which I am featuring here, at sunset (EST), on the second night of Chanukah.  

I love it. A beautiful mixture of religious imagery, singing talent and rap, “Miracle” is the song my people deserve.

Do you believe in miracles 
Am I hearing you? Am I seeing you? 
Eight nights eight lights and these rites keep me right 
Bless me to the highest heights with your miracle 

Look at those lyrics. Those are Chanukah as hel—Gehinnom.

Amazon/iTunes

A sufganiyah is a round jelly doughnut eaten in Israel and around the world on the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried, filled with jelly or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar. At Hanukkah, Jewish people observe the custom of eating fried foods in commemoration of the miracle associated with the Temple oil.

Chanukah is so much deeper than just the gift giving and the physical acts or lighting the Menorah or playing dreidel. It’s about banishing the darkness in our lives. It’s about being a source of light not just for yourself but also for those around you. It’s about seeing hope where there was only despair. It’s about finding the miracles in the little everyday things around you.
—   Susan Mayfield
December 25th, 2016 - 25th of Kislev, 5777

Yes, today is the first day of Chanukah!

Chanukah (also spelled Chanukkah, Hannukah, and like 10 other ways) is the eight-day Festival of Lights, celebrating the Miracles of Chanukah.

The first miracle: During the time of the story of Chanukah, the Holy-Land was ruled over by the Seleucids, who sought to suppress the people of Israel in their religion. A small band of faithful Jews led by the family of the Maccabees defeated the much larger Seleucid army, and reclaimed the Holy Temple.

The second miracle: To rededicate the Temple, the Maccabees sought to re-light the menorah (a seven branched candelabra) but they found there was only enough oil to burn for one night, and it would take eight days to purify more oil. Miraculously, the oil burnt for the entire eight days, so that more oil could be purified.

“Chanukah” means dedication, referring to the rededication of the Temple after desecration by the Hellenistic influences. Among the customs of celebration, which include eating foods fried in oil, and playing a top called a dreidel, is lighting on each night an additional candle on a special nine branched menorah.

Chanukah is to be celebrated publicly, so all during the holiday I will be posting pictures of my menorah each evening, and reblogging other people’s. For more information of that see this post.

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פרסומי ניסא- Publicizing the miracle.

One of the essential parts of lighting the chanukah candles is lighting them in a visible place so they can be seen and enjoyed by passersby, leading to questions about the story behind the candles.

These families in the Old City of Jerusalem take it a step further, with specially made boxes outside their houses so their candles won’t get blown out and can still be right in the public eye.

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Tonight is the first night of Chanukah! 

On the first night of Chanukah, millions of Jews  in Israel and abroad will Light their Menorah’s and shine that flicker of Light for the world to see in the darkest of corners around the world.The Menorah’s light symbolizes a beacon of hope–reminding us of the Chanukah miracle,the struggle and–ultimate victory–of the weak Maccabees reminds us to never give up hope.

To all of Am Yisrael, and to all of the world, Chanukah Sameach. MayHaShem bring us the geula, and with it peace for Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, and peace and joy for all His creations.

May we all have a happy and healthy Chanukah. Chanukah Sameach!

חנוכה שמח