Newsletter Issue #9 December 21, 2011

The Obama administration’s holiday reception season was in full swing. And so began the fastidious frenzy to make the White House’s kitchen kosher last week, a nearly four-hour drill that started at 10 p.m. Wednesday. A deadline approached: a truckload of kosher food was due Thursday at 10 a.m.

Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim around the world launched a flurry of activities Wednesday night and Thursday to celebrate Yud Tes Kislev — as the Chassidic New Year’ begins. The date, the 19th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev on the Jewish calendar, is celebrated as the Rosh HaShanah of Chassidim.

A series of books for youngsters that was published after the death of former Sephardic Chief Rabbi, HaRishon Letzion Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu of blessed memory, telling some of the many fascinating stories about his life, now comes the play. Entitled “Avihem Shel Yisrael” (the father of Israel) the new, first-of-its-kind play will hit the stage during Chanukah.

A well-preserved 2,000-year-old scroll of the Ten Commandments will be on display for the first time in New York City. The tiny scroll was shown Friday for 10 days at the Discovery Times Square exhibition space before returning to Israel. The parchment dates back to between 50 B.C. and 1 A.D. It must be kept in a light-and-humidity controlled environment to avoid deterioration.

Chanukah begins Tuesday evening, December 20, but visitors to Home Depot’s St. Louis store got an early start on the Festival of Lights last Sunday building their own, usable, take-home wood menorahs. Now in its fourth year, the Home Depot Menorah Workshop attracted a diverse crowd of 400 children and adults. With lively Chanukah music, hot latkes, Mr. Dreidel and the now-famous Chabad Chanukah olive-press demonstration.

My first thought upon hearing that Matisyahu shaved his beard was that it was a publicity stunt and that it was somehow orchestrated by some folks at YU to take some of the unwanted publicity away from them because of their censorship. The second thought was, maybe it’s just a regular marketing tactic, I haven’t heard much of Matisyahu lately and that means he must need some sort of attention.

As most football fans know by now, Tim Tebow is not a Jew. He is an evangelical Christian who is not shy about expressing his faith on the football field and off it. It was a Jewish fan who came up with the idea for the Tebowing homage-to-Tebow web site. As Mr. Tebow’s acts of goodwill merged with his achievements on the field for the Florida team, Tebow fandom morphed into Tebow piety.

Audible gave us a free copy of the Dalai Lama’s new book, “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World”. It is a wise book full of insight for individuals who want to better their lives, with a prophetic message for universal peace and compassion. The Dalai Lama’s simple and powerful style of writing, his insight into human nature and we aspire to share his essential naive goodness.

Finally, giving gelt is really the Chanukah tradition of yore, the idea of giving presents only really snuck in on account of the Dec. 25th holiday, so I realized that the first night of Chanukah would not be complete without these little bags to hold the chocolate coins we traditionally give every Chanukah.

Happy Hanukkah Everyone!!

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