Once again, I was not invited to the White House Hanukkah Bash**. You can be sure Senator Schumer got his invite, and barely a week old, I bet Steve Rabinowitz and Aaron Keyak’s BlueLight Strategies got theirs.

But I am not bitter. So I will be spending my Wednesday catching up on all the news-bits that were published on Jews over the past few days. Stories like:

In The Wall Street Journal, Joel Golovensky tried to explain the idea of ethnicity and religion and nation states, and why Israel might want to be a Jewish State. Guess what? He is one of the authors of the proposed Knesset law to make Israel a “Nation-State of the Jewish People.”

Over at BuzzFeed, they took their Jewish character (Zach Kornfled) and shaved him down – including his back – and made him do drag (as Korn-ocopia) for Hanukkah. His missed out on a bar mitzvah at 13, so I guess this makes him a man now. Plus his grandmother came to watch and add in a few jokes.

Fleeing to Texas, I caught up with outgoing governor and possible 2016 U.S. Presidential candidate Rick Perry. Governor Perry issues a Hanukkah greeting that compares the Maccabees (not to be confused with Six13 or the Maccabeats) with the Boston Tea Party rebels. He wrote :

“It is fitting that the first night of Chanukah falls this year on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. The same spirit of freedom that inspired the Maccabees to rise up against a foreign empire motivated our Founding Fathers to rebel against the Crown on that fateful night,” Perry wrote in a statement released by his office….. Our Republic, like the light of the ancient Menorah, has lasted longer than anyone could have predicted. America remains a beacon of hope in difficult times for the world. And Chanukah reminds us of the power of faith to sustain a nation and ensure the security of our ally, Israel.”

Over in DC, The Washington Post asks if there is something un-Jewish about snowflakes and whether it is difficult to celebrate Hanukkah in the midst of American Christmas. They quote a toy marketing exec. who says, “Christmas has gone so secular, and Santa and elves and wreaths are so removed from Christianity, we could just say: ‘We can adopt these. There’s no harm.’ But I feel guilty.” After his 4 year old son asked to buy an elf on a shelf, he created the mensch on a bench and he plans to sell 50,000 of them in 2014.

The Oregonian – which has a lot of readers in hip Portland – also questions Jewish tradition among younger Jews. Reporter Melissa Binder asks whether Jewish community and culture will survive some Jews dismiss religion “It never would have occurred to my parents’ generation not to belong to a synagogue,” said Michael Cahana, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue in Northwest Portland. “Yet today there are thousands of Jews in the Portland metro area who aren’t involved in or seeking a synagogue.”

How can they not be involved in synagogues, when the Gloucester, MA (Boston area) synagogue is having a lobster trap menorah? (note: it is a play on the Gloucester area lobster trap xmas tree)


The New York Times probably has a Hanukkah story. Right? Yes, they go to Los Angeles to profile Joel Simkhai, an Israeli-born, but Westchester-raised entrepreneur who founded Grindr, a geo-social networking app or in some circles a gay hookup mobile app. He doesn’t discuss Jewish holidays, but speaks to accusations of “white privilege” and misogyny. He says “Grindr is a very, very visual experience. I’m not really a big believer in words.” The circuit party afficionado added, “You know, I never had any master plan to shift a culture, I made something because I wanted it for myself.” Well, I guess he is sort of like a modern day Maccabee.

Over at TIME Magazine, their Hanukkah treat for readers is a story about the Jerusalem Hanukkah truce of December 1954. It was a Hanukkah when ultra-Orthodox residents of the Israeli city did not attack secular Jews for driving or smoking at the Sabbath.

Dr.+Dreidel+ShinArtist Hannah Rothstein in the San Francisco Bay Area has created a (Dr. Dre)idel She tells us that it was created for its sheer hilarity and the love of puns. Each Dr. Dre face has been carefully chosen to correlate with the ‘aftermath’ of the dreidel’s spin, such as ? Gimmel, ‘take all,’ It gets a thumbs up from a happy Dr. Dre; and
? Hay, ‘take half,’ with a mildly smug portrait or Dr. Dre.

You can spin that dreidel it next to your $100,000 menorah which was just sold at auction last month, as per this CBS Marketwatch story, While listening to Jimmy Fallon’s Hanukkah songs.

Or kick up your feet at the Latino Hanukkah in Los Angeles, as featured in Los Angeles Daily News.

I admit, I do enjoy the Big Data analysis of the spelling of Hanukkah/Chanukah over the past several decades. Bravo to the Religion News Service.


These stories leave me empty. Nothing will substitute for the White House party, except perhaps, maybe a story from ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. Their editors ask why there is no feel good Hanukkah movie (Eight Couples, Eight Nights, One Movie), like Valentine’s Day or Love, Actually. Their film would be directed by Garry Marshall (who, dear EW, is Christian, not Jewish, although he did play SheldN on The Odd Couple with his sister Penny, who was once married to Rob Reiner) and feature Mandy Patinkin as the spirit of Judah Maccabee, as well Seth Rogin, Winona Horowitz, Andy Samberg, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paul Rudd, Albert (Einstein) Brooks Natasha Lyonne Braunstein, Mel Kaminsky Brooks, and more.

Jag Sameaj!

– – – – – – – – – – –

** But seriously, I am not bitter about the lack of a Hanukkah party invite. It gives me a great feeling to know all the people who did get an invite this year. And kudos to Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of NYC’s CBST synagogue who attended the party with Tasha Calhoun, her long time synagogue assistant; to Rabbi Eytan Hammerman, of a Westchester County Jewish Community Center, who is attending; Rabbi Bisno of Rodef Shalom; and Rabbi Laurence Bazer, Lt Colonel, of Framingham’s Beth SHolom, who lit the Hanukkiah; and everyone else.

P.S. Welcome back, Alan Gross, the American contractor who was helping Cuba’s Jewish community when he was arrested and imprisoned by the Cuban Government for 5 years, after being accused of being a spy. He was released by Cuba on the first day of Hanukkah as part of a normalization deal with the USA

About the author



  • For future reference:
    Actors of fully Jewish background: -Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julian Morris, Adam Brody, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Gabriel Macht, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lisa Kudrow, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Debra Messing, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Margarita Levieva, Elizabeth Berkley, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel, Skylar Astin, Mia Kirshner, Alden Ehrenreich, Eric Balfour, Jason Isaacs, Jon Bernthal.

    Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers -Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, James Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Emmy Rossum, Rashida Jones, Jennifer Connelly, Nora Arnezeder, Goldie Hawn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Amanda Peet, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman, Ben Barnes, Patricia Arquette, Kyra Sedgwick, Dave Annable.

    Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: -Andrew Garfield, Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, Nicola Peltz, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Winona Ryder, Ben Foster, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron, Jonathan Keltz.

    Oh, and Ansel Elgort’s father is Jewish, though I don’t know how Ansel was raised.

    Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism -Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

  • BS”D
    Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
    A Handicapped child 5775 #3
    20 Kislev 5775 (Dec 11, ‘14)

    (from: http://ladaat.info/showgil.aspx?par=20141227&gil=1713)

    “Why Are We Living”

    Time is moving on and we are definitely getting very close to the Geula Shelaima. I think every true Jew, whether he is close to Hashem or a bit farther away, feels now is the time that the world is going to change completely. The Frum, the believing Jew will feel a kind of closeness to Hashem that he never felt before, even though every morning when he gets up he can feel a strange and frightening foreboding of what’s going to be in the future.

    The Jew that is not so close to Hashem will also feel the fear and he will start thinking what this life is about. What do I have? What are my goals? What does it matter if I go to a football game or not? What does it matter if I get the job exactly that I want or get into the right university just right for me? What does it matter? What really matters in this life? All the entertainment? All the social life? What is life all about? Why are we living? Is it just one big accident, Chas Vesholom, an accident that brought us into life against our will to suffer, Chas Vesholom? The fear of what’s coming in the near future together with the suffering that we are already going through, are bringing some people, some Jews to question, at least to stop for a moment from their partying to ask what is this about, why is this happening.

    These questions are not usually asked here in Eretz Yisroel because we are used here in Eretz Yisroel to go through many crisis and then the crisis disappears and we continue going on. Of course a certain amount of people are killed Shelo Naida and so on and so forth, but the ones that are left are the great majority and they can continue on with the life that they left, the life of enjoyment, of entertainment, of flying off to Europe, to Thailand, to who knows where, and enjoying themselves. As for the Frum we continue with our grand Bar Mitzvas and weddings and our own type of social entertainment. We continue with our restaurants, of course the most kosher, and all our entertainments with the best Hechsherim, our non-Tzniusdik dress with the best Hechsherim, and so on and so forth. Now however many people feel inside that we are not going to come out of this frightening projection of future events so easily. It’s not just going to pass.

    There is going to be a tremendous change in the world, a tremendous change that will in the end destroy much of the world, and therefore there are those, that are starting to feel great fear, have bad dreams, unnerving dreams and wake up very many times with a choking feeling with a fear that grabs a person and makes it difficult to breathe, a fear that makes a person want to jump up out of bed and feel alive again and this is all from the fear and the spiritual pressure of the world that is about to explode, a world that is about to change completely. This world of ours is going to disappear the way it is now, and we must change also, so that we can survive the greatest change since the creation of the world. All the dire predictions that are being made for the near future should be taken seriously if we want to be part of what’s going to be, be part of the Geula Shelaima, and a much more spiritual life. We have to become close to Hashem. We have to do Hashem’s will. We have to be Yidden the way we are supposed to be.

    We must! We must do Hashem’s will completely in every aspect, to bend ourselves completely to Hashem, to His Ratzon. Otherwise we will never be able to go into the new world of Moshiach Tzidkainu.

    I’ve many times spoken to you again and again on the subject, and maybe you are tired of hearing this even though I’ve tried saying it in a different way each time to make you understand better and better. I will try again anyway. I will try to make you understand that this is a great year. This year is a great and frightening year. This year is when many things will change in the greatest way. The wars have already begun. Blood is flowing freely. We are not even impressed anymore when the barbarians cut people’s heads off, but we are terribly disturbed or will be terribly disturbed when we won’t be able to get a kosher hamburger or coca cola or just plain food. We will be terribly disturbed when we see great cities falling, destroyed together with their population, Shelo Naida, all disappearing.

    We will be greatly disturbed to say the least. How will we be able to overcome our feelings? How will we be able to get through all of this because even if we don’t actually see this happening next to us it will be such a shock when we know so many people in those places and even if we don’t know them still it will be a shock. It will be a terrible shock. I don’t think that any generation before ours since the Creation, except for of course Sedom and Ammorah experienced such a thing, such a catastrophe, such a horrible terrible type of destruction. Even in Sedom and Ammorah it wasn’t the size of what’s going to be now. It’s dwarfed next to what’s going to be now. Don’t you understand? There will be plenty of bloodshed here in Eretz Yisroel, Shelo Naida, but it won’t be destroyed. Those that are far from Hashem and don’t have the Zechus to come back to Hashem will be destroyed with the buildings, will be destroyed with the Edomites and the Yishmaelites and all other peoples that don’t accept Hakodosh Boruch Hu as their Creator. So what do we have to do? How can we get through all of this? We have to believe completely that whatever Hashem does is for our good, no matter what.

    There is only one relationship in this world. It is the person with Hakodosh Boruch Hu. That may sound difficult for you because you have children, you have husbands, you have wives that you love very much. True, but when push comes to shove we are only the children of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, all of us, and we have been in many Gilgulim here in this world and in every Gilgul we might have had a different husband, a different wife, children not always the same, and we have had different situations that we had to overcome. We are so low and now is our chance finally to pull ourselves up and come back.

    When we get to the point where we greet Moshiach, Be’ezras Hashem, don’t worry. Every Neshoma will have its true, true Zivig and every child will know its true parents, and we all will know and feel and have no question about the fact that we as a people have only one Father and that is Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and our whole lives, our whole beings will be involved in only one occupation coming closer and closer to Him. In order to come closer to Him we will eventually drop all our flesh and blood characteristics and become totally, totally spiritual and become one with Him.

    Lately we have seen many tragedies. Tonight one of the Bochurim that was killed in the tragic car accident in Holland was buried. He has a very special name, Langleben, “a long life”. May he have a long life, a life of eternity, he was a Bochur that was working to be close to Hashem as was the other boy that was killed. Both trying their best to be good Jews, trying to do what Hashem wants us to do.

    Why did they have to die? I can’t answer you why these particular ones had to die, but I can tell you this that the latest tragedies are a message to us that we must, must do Teshuva, and realize what we are doing wrong. When Hashem brings down so many tragedies on Am Yisroel at one time we must stop and think and take stock of our lives of what we may be doing wrong.

    There was a terrible incident in Crown Heights also, and lately there have been many tragedies all over the Frum Jewish world Shelo Naidah. We must open our eyes and try to figure out where we are going wrong. It’s not a pat on the back for us. It’s a Potsh in the face for us so we will wake up.

    So please understand that Hashem is not happy. He wants to save His Am, but generally speaking we are going in the wrong direction. Am Yisroel you better wake up! Stop the Machlokes. Stop the Pritzus. Stop the running after the Gashmius. Stop the gluttony and come back to what’s real. The only thing that is real is Hakodosh Boruch Hu and His Torah…