VIDEO: Muslims and Jews vow to stand up for each other, build global movement of reconciliation

24 10 2013
By Rabbi Marc Schneier & Russell Simmons

hope_sign-fp-02af074c6d50b1caef2fb6e2d985bae1There is a widely accepted belief that Muslims and Jews are enemies and will always remain so. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

For the past six years The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding has not only challenged this narrative, but has facilitated a global dialogue between Muslims and Jews that is taking place on all six populated continents.

This Muslim-Jewish dialogue is our annual Weekend of Twinning which encourages joint Muslim and Jewish programming on the grassroots level in every community across the world where Muslims and Jews reside.

Our efforts reveal the actual harmony that exists between these two faiths and peoples and here is a video that we produced with Unity Productions Foundation, which documents this global Muslim Jewish coalition that is vowing to stand up for one another by combating Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred.

Next month, in cities around the world, these peacemakers will come together and break bread and discuss ways of improving the world as part of the Weekend of Twinning, which officially takes place November 15-17th.

To participate in the Weekend of Twining, please contact us
To view the longer version of this film:

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Iranian president tweets Rosh Hashanah greeting

5 09 2013

rosh hashannah

By Yoel Goldman/Times of Israel

Reform-minded Hasan Rouhani wishes ‘all Jews, especially Iranian Jews’ a blessed new year.

Jews around the world received an unexpected holiday greeting on Wednesday — from new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.

Rouhani, considered by some to be a relative reformer, took to his Twitter account to say, “As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah.”

During this year’s presidential election campaign he condemned his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s verbal attacks against Jews as “hate rhetoric.”

The tweet was accompanied by a 2011 photo of an Iranian Jew praying at Tehran Synagogue.

The office of the recently elected Iranian president has not denied that the account, @HassanRouhani, is his and it is believed that it would not persist without his approval.

A 2012 census revealed that there were fewer than 9,000 Jews left in Iran.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani waves after his swearing-in ceremony at the parliament, in Tehran, August 4, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani waves after his swearing-in ceremony at the parliament, in Tehran, August 4, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The Iranian president said last month that his countrymen elected him to change the country’s foreign policy and shift away from the bombastic style adopted under Ahmadinejad.

“People in the June 14 elections declared that they want a new foreign policy,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.


POLAND: Jewish leaders protest against the ban on kosher slaughterhouses

19 07 2013

Poland had recently extended the ban on Kosher meat production citing animal cruelty as the reason since according to Kosher rules, animal must be alive when its throat is cut. This raises several serious ethical questions. Are the animal rights above the rights of the people to practice their religious customs? Are the animal rights real reason or is it just a case of camouflaged antisemitism?  If the animal rights are the real reason, then why not ban the whole meat production industry? If you never saw a slaughterhouse from inside, maybe you should visit one and see for yourself. I warn you, if you do visit any slaughterhouse, Kosher or non-Kosher, chances are you will be vegetarian at least for a while.  And than, the fact that Poland was the place where millions of Jews lost their lives during the Holocaust, doesn’t make Poland the best candidate to experiment with putting animal rights above the rights of Jews to follow their tradition. Below you will find a news article about the Polish decision and the article with the response from Jewish community. Your comments, viewpoints and opinions are welcome. 
Jura Nanuk,
President & Founder

A scene from kosher slaughterhouse in Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

A scene from kosher slaughterhouse in Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

JERUSALEM, July 15 (Reuters) – Israel has criticized an extension of Poland’s ban on kosher meat production, saying on Monday that it damaged efforts to rehabilitate Jewish life in a country whose large Jewish community was all but wiped out in the Holocaust.

Citing animal cruelty, Warsaw lawmakers on Friday rejected a government-backed bill that would have allowed slaughterhouses to produce meat in accordance with Jewish ritual law. The practice was halted last year by a constitutional court ruling.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the vote “totally unacceptable”.

“Poland’s history is intertwined with the history of the Jewish people. This decision seriously harms the process of restoring Jewish life in Poland,” it said in a statement.

“We call on the parliament to reassess its decision and expect the relevant authorities to find the way to prevent a crude blow to the religious tradition of the Jewish people.”

The Holocaust almost eliminated Poland’s Jewish community, Europe’s biggest before World War Two broke out in 1939. Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz and Treblinka were located on Polish soil.

Some Polish Jewish groups have also said prejudice about their faith played a part in the anti-kosher measures.

Usually, slaughterhouses stun livestock before killing them, while kosher rites demand that an animal is killed by slitting its throat while it is alive and bleeding it to death. The halal meat consumed by observant Muslims is killed in a similar way.

The bill’s defeat was a setback for Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who has sought to strengthen ties with Israel.

During a trip to Spain, Tusk described the Israeli Foreign Ministry statement as inappropriate.

“Especially the historical context is, to put it mildly, off target and is not applicable to the situation,” he said. (Writing by Dan Williams; Additional reporting by Andres Gonzalez in Madrid; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Alistair Lyon)

Jewish leaders ask EU to block Polish kosher slaughter ban

Europe’s Jewish leaders on Thursday asked the European Union to back their call for a Polish ban on the ritual slaughter of animals for food to be overturned.

Jewish community and religious leaders from across Europe also urged the EU to review its own legislation on animal slaughter to strengthen the rights of Jews and Muslims to eat meat killed in line with their religious requirements.

The EU rules are designed to minimise suffering for animals when they are killed, but religious groups are exempted from a requirement that animals be stunned before death.

Kosher and halal slaughter require an animal to be killed by slitting its throat.

“We call on the European Commission and European Parliament to reinforce the directive (legislation) to allow Jews and Muslims to practise their religion,” said European Jewish Congress secretary-general Serge Cwajgenbaum.

He was speaking after urgent talks called in Brussels after Poland’s parliament on Friday rejected a government bill to overturn the ban.

Jewish leaders said Poland was the only country in the 28-nation EU to effectively ban the production of kosher food.

The ritual slaughter of animals for food has been banned there since January 1 after a constitutional court ruled it was incompatible with animal rights law.

The lawmakers’ rejection of the bill angered the Jewish community, farmers and companies that had exported kosher meat to Israel and halal meat to Muslim countries.

Kosher McDonalds at Ben Gurion airport, Tel-Aviv, Israel. No chheseburgers available there as according to kosher rules meat and diary products should not be mixed.

Kosher McDonald’s at Ben Gurion airport, Tel-Aviv, Israel. No cheeseburgers available there as according to kosher rules meat and diary products should not be mixed.

Related post: Dutch MPs vote to ban religious slaughter

PHOTO ESSAY: Jewish women take ownership of traditionally male rituals

15 07 2013

By Yasmine Hafiz/The Huffington Post

These Jewish women are shaking up the establishment in Israel by participating in rituals usually reserved for men only.

Chaya Baker was ordained as a rabbi. Tamar Saar has read from the Torah, the Jewish holy scroll. Anat Hoffman demands that women be allowed to pray as men do at a key Jerusalem holy site.

Depending on whom you ask, these women are either pioneers or provocateurs.

They are part of the liberal Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism, which allow women to perform rituals typically reserved for men under Orthodox Judaism, the dominant form of Judaism in Israel. They say they are exercising egalitarian worship, which runs counter to the traditions of Israel’s Orthodox establishment.

Under Orthodox tradition, women can’t become rabbis, nor can they perform a number of rituals men do.

The liberal denominations make up the majority of Jews in the United States, the world’s second largest Jewish community. What has emerged is a growing rift between the world’s two largest Jewish communities, which often disagree about religious affairs.

Baker became ordained as a rabbi in 2007. She performs many of the same duties a male rabbi would, such as holding prayer services, counseling congregants and leading study groups. But because of her affiliation to the Conservative movement, she is limited in the ceremonies she can perform. For example, the unions of the couples she marries are not recognized in Israel. They must have a second ceremony either with an Orthodox rabbi in Israel or travel abroad to marry.

Baker, 35, said many Israelis have become alienated by the Orthodox grip on many aspects of society and that the more liberal streams offer a Judaism that jives with a modern Israeli’s outlook. She said she sees a growing recognition in Israeli society of the more marginal streams, and with that, a greater role for women in Judaism.

“People are changing their concepts of gender roles within Judaism,” Baker said.

Saar is one of the few 12-year-old Israeli girls who are having Bat Mitzvah ceremonies as boys do. In this rite of passage marking the transition from childhood to adulthood, they study a particular portion of the Torah and read from it during the ceremony.

Saar wore an orange dress accented with a white and orange-pink prayer shawl she made herself as she recited the biblical passage in front of nearly 100 family members and friends in May. Tamar’s two older sisters also had Reform Bat Mitzvah ceremonies like hers, and she said more girls in Israel should, too.

“Girls make up half of the world’s population, and it is stupid that men are worth more, because we are exactly like them,” Saar said.

One of the most prominent groups pushing for the right of women to worship as men do is the “Women of the Wall.” The Jewish women’s group, led by Hoffman, holds monthly prayer services at the Western Wall, a remnant of the biblical Temple compound and the holiest site where Jews can pray, where they perform rituals Orthodox Judaism reserves for men.

Hoffman, often draped in a pink, purple and white prayer shawl, has been arrested for what she says is her right to pray as she wishes. The Western Wall’s ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz, has called the women “provocative,” but an Israeli court has upheld their right to pray there.

The court ruling is one of a string of recent achievements by Reform and Conservative streams in Israel. Israeli officials have proposed building an area for mixed male-female prayer at the Western Wall to accommodate those streams. The area currently has separate prayer zones for men and women.

Last year, Israel agreed to grant state funding to some non-Orthodox rabbis. Many Orthodox rabbis are paid by the government.

In 2010, the Israeli government froze a contentious bill that would have strengthened Orthodox control over Jewish conversions. The same year, Israel began allowing Israelis with no declared religion to marry outside the strict religious establishment – giving hope to many who reject the Orthodox monopoly on family matters. Civil marriages are generally banned in Israel.

Rabbi David Golinkin, who heads the Conservative Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, said that positive trend is attributable to Israelis’ search for an alternative to Orthodox Judaism. He said he sees greater recognition for the liberal streams, and the rights they grant women, continuing.

“There’s a growing recognition that there is more than one way to be Jewish. It’s legitimate to be Jewish in different ways, and the state of Israel has to serve of all its citizens,” Golinkin said.

Here’s a gallery of images from The Associated Press showing women performing Jewish rituals in Israel.


Israeli Rabbi of the Ramot Zion community, Chaya Baker, puts on Tefilin, also known as Phylacteries, at a synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo taken Wednesday, June 19, 2013.


Israeli Rabbi of the Ramot Zion community, Chaya Baker, poses with members of the community for a photo at their synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo taken Wednesday, June 19, 2013.


Israeli youth Tamar Saar, center, poses for a photo with the Rabbi of their community, Maya Lebovich, right, and her parents at a synagogue in Mevaseret Zion near Jerusalem. Photo taken Tuesday, June 18, 2013.


Israeli youth Tamar Saar, left, poses for a photo with the Rabbi of their community, Maya Lebovich, at a synagogue in Mevaseret Zion near Jerusalem. Photo taken Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

jewish women

Israeli Rabbis Miriam Berkowitz, left, and Valery Stessin, of the Kashuvot organization for pastoral care, also known as spiritual support, pose for a photo at a hospital in Jerusalem. Photo taken Thursday, June 20, 2013.


Israeli Rabbi and Torah scribe, Hanna Klebansky, poses for a photo at a synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo taken Wednesday, June 19, 2013.


Israeli Rabbi and Torah scribe, Hanna Klebansky, left, poses for a photo with members of the community at a synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo taken Wednesday, June 19, 2013.


Israeli Rabbi and Jewish law “Decider”, Diana Villa, poses for a photo at the Schechter Institute of Jewish studies where she teaches in Jerusalem. Photo taken Sunday, June 16, 2013.


Israeli Rabbi and Jewish law “Decider”, Diana Villa, center, poses for a photo with colleagues at the Schechter Institute of Jewish studies where she teaches in Jerusalem. Photo taken Sunday, June 16, 2013.


The chairman of the Women of the Wall organization, Anat Hoffman, poses for a photo in Jerusalem. Photo taken Thursday, June 20, 2013.

Imams Visit Auschwitz, Pray For Holocaust Victims

30 05 2013
Muslim Imams during prayer for Holocaust victims at Auschwitz

Muslim imams during prayer for Holocaust victims at Auschwitz, Poland

Muslim leaders from across the globe paid tribute Holocaust victims this week during a visit to Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp, where they prayed at the Wall of Death for those who were killed by genocide and suffered under violent anti-Semitism.

The imams, who hailed from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bosnia, Palestine, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey and the United States, performed Islamic prayers while facing Mecca as part of a Holocaust awareness visit funded in part by the U.S. State Department.

“What can you say? You’re speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination,” Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the US-based Islamic Society of North America, told Agence France-Presse.

“Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism for God’s sake, end anti-Semitism for God’s sake, end Islamophobia for God’s sake, end sexism for God’s sake… Enough is enough,” said Magid, who leads the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Northern Virginia.

The visit, which runs through Friday, is scheduled to include a tour of Warsaw’s new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, a kosher dinner with Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, and a meeting with the Polish Righteous Among the Nations. The group of imams, which includes Muzammil H. Siddiqi, president of the Fiqh Council of North America and the former president of the Islamic Society of North America, is also scheduled to meet with Muslim, Jewish and Catholic leaders in Poland.

“We thank [the imams] for their willingness to come. Our task is to encourage proper understanding between our faiths in ways that stress our common humanity,” said Rabbi Jack Bemporad, who is the Executive Director of the New Jersey-based Center for Interreligious Understanding and is leading the visit. “Understanding our particular histories will help us better understand each other so that we can unite in combatting prejudice against all religions.”

“I think that the imams that came here having very little knowlege in many cases of the Shoah are now convinced that any kind of Holocaust denial or Holocaust revisionism is simply out of the question,” Bemporad said.

Ahmet Muharrem Atlig, a Turkish Muslim and former imam, said that despite being educated in “much informaiton about Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Holocaust,” the visit was a “turning point” for him.

“As soon as possible, I will bring my family here … I will organize Turkish imams and muftis to go to Holocaust sites. My people don’t know what happened here. It’s not an agenda. It’s a reality. This is not Jewish heritage, it’s world heritage. Jewish people were mostly affected but the lessons are global,” Atlig said.

“The US imams told us that their trip was transformative and they shared their experiences with their American Muslim communities. We thought a trip with an international group of imams and religious leaders to be of vital importance,” said Catholic University of America law professor Marshall Breger, an Orthodox Jew and former Reagan White House liaison to the Jewish community who helped organized both trips.

“Increasing compassion and preserving man’s humanity starts with unveiling falsehoods that shore up bigotry. Unfortunately, one of those is Holocaust denial. Muslims and millions of others also suffered and Holocaust denial denies them, too, not just Jews who perished,” Breger said.

Source: Huffington Post

HUNGARY: Christians Churches Fight Right Wing Anti-Semitism

14 05 2013
Main synagogue in Budapest, Hungary

Main synagogue in Budapest, Hungary

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

BUDAPEST, May 14 (Reuters) – When Hungarian radical right-wingers rallied against a Jewish conference in Budapest in early May, a well-known Protestant pastor hid behind the stage while his wife stepped up to the podium to denounce Jews and Israel.

Lorant Hegedus could have preached the same anti-Semitism as his wife, a deputy for the populist Jobbik party in parliament. But his part in launching the rally may cost him his role as the far-right’s favourite clergyman.

With anti-Semitism on the rise here, Christian churches are working with the Jewish community to counter the provocations against Jews and the Roma minority that have won Jobbik support among voters fed up with the country’s economic crisis.

The Hungarian Reformed Church has begun proceedings that might end up defrocking Hegedus and depriving him of his high-profile base at the Homeland Church on the upscale Freedom Square, near the central bank and the United States embassy.

“This is a permanent provocation,” Gusztav Bolcskei, the Church’s presiding bishop, said of Hegedus’s political activity. “It has nothing to do with the Gospel.”

Hungary’s small community of 80,000-100,000 Jews appreciates the Christian support. “We’re satisfied with the actions of the churches,” said Peter Feldmajer, who stepped down as head of the community on Sunday.

“I think, at the end of the day, he will be fired,” he said.

Hegedus declined to be interviewed for this article.


Supporter of Hungarian far right party Jobbik

Supporter of Hungarian far right party Jobbik

Anti-Semitism has deep roots in Hungary, which began passing anti-Jewish laws in 1920, more than a decade before Nazi Germany. About half a million Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust, which the Christian churches failed to oppose.

Other trends that resonate with sections of Hungarian society are a tradition of vibrant nationalism after centuries of foreign domination and, more recently, a strong resentment against the country’s largest minority, its 700,000 Roma.

With the country in economic crisis and voters disillusioned by the previous Socialist governments, Jobbik tapped these emotions to win 17 percent of the votes in the 2010 election.

While conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban has condemned anti-Semitism and rapped Jobbik in recent comments to an Israeli newspaper, he shied away from denouncing the party in a May 5 speech to a World Jewish Congress assembly here only minutes after WJC President Ronald Lauder urged him to do so.

“If Orban goes too hard against Jobbik, he’s worried he won’t be able to scoop up Jobbik’s voters,” said Robin Shepherd, author of a study for the WJC on neo-Nazi parties in Europe.

Neutralised in public during the four decades of communism that ended in 1989, religion has crept back into Hungarian politics in recent years as Orban’s Fidesz party stresses the country’s Christian roots while Jobbik fans resentment of Jews.

This has come despite a dramatic fall in church affiliation. Census figures show that self-declared Roman Catholics dropped from 54 to 39 percent of the population between 2001 and 2011 and self-declared Reformed from 16 to 12 percent.

The Jewish community remained stable at 0.1 percent.


The resurgent mixture of nationalism and anti-Semitism has presented a challenge for the Reformed Church, which has a strong patriotic tradition rooted in opposition to the Catholic Habsburgs plus church laws allowing wide leeway to its pastors.

Its national leadership has denounced anti-Semitism several times but failed a decade ago to oust Hegedus, whose father was bishop of Budapest at the time. It renewed the effort to defrock him last month after he called for the anti-Jewish rally.

“According to our democratic rules, this should start at the church district level,” Bolcskei said. If the district agrees to move against a pastor, the case then goes up the hierarchy and through church courts before a final decision.

“It can be done, but it’s a very long procedure,” he said.

Thanks to regular dialogue between Jews and Reformed Church leaders, Feldmajer said he understood why Bolcskei – who he said was “totally with us” – could not easily expel Hegedus.

He thought only about 10 percent of Reformed preachers and congregants harboured anti-Semitic views, a figure that matches pollsters’ estimates of Jobbik’s core political support, and hoped the Church leadership could change their minds.


Hungaran Cardinal Peter Erdo

Hungaran Cardinal Peter Erdo

“It’s easier in the Catholic Church,” said Feldmajer, who praised Cardinal Peter Erdo for his strong support for the Jewish community “not just in a closed room but also in public.”

Jews used to feel some hostility from some Catholic clergy, he said, but that faded away after Erdo became archbishop of Budapest a decade ago, he said.

The Catholic bishops issued an open letter before the 2010 election warning against “neo-pagan tendencies” in some political parties, a clear reference to some Jobbik ideologues who hark back to Hungary’s pre-Christian history.

Erdo, who was frequently mentioned earlier this year as a possible successor to retired Pope Benedict, joined the 2012 Budapest March of the Living to remember the Holocaust.

“I’ve received some hostile letters and criticism in some newspapers saying that the Catholic Church is not patriotic enough,” the cardinal said. “There are also people who say Jesus Christ was not a Jew. Come on, this is crazy.” (Editing by Anna Willard)

Hungarian politician condemned for anti-semitism

28 11 2012

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Budapest, November 27, 2012 – Hundreds of protesters wearing yellow star rallied on Tuesday outside the Parliament to condemn a far-right politician who called for the screening of Jews for national security risks, part of a wave of incendiary racist comments from a populist party.

Marton Gyongyosi, a far-right Jobbik party deputy, on Monday criticized Hungary’s foreign ministry for what he said was siding with Israel and said the Middle East conflict presented an opportunity to carry out his plans for background checks.

“I think now is the time to assess … how many people of Jewish origin there are here, and especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who represent a certain national security risk for Hungary,” Gyongyosi said.

The Jobbik party has become the second-largest opposition party in Parliament, capitalizing on anti-Semitic and anti-Roma sentiment. Still, the government’s majority has given Jobbik little legislative power and the party’s anti-Semitic statements are usually reserved for their political rallies and publications. Such direct comments are rarely heard inside the legislature.

“One of our fellow deputies stepped over a line that I thought until now could not happen in the halls of the Hungarian national assembly,” said deputy speaker Istvan Ujhelyi, who wore a yellow star while presiding over part of Tuesday’s plenary session. “As far as I know I do not have Jewish ancestry, but should Jobbik uncover that I have such roots, I will be proud of them.”

Some 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust, including around a third of the victims who died at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Hungary’s Jewish population is estimated at 100,000 today, and while physical attacks are rare, an elderly rabbi was insulted recently near his home and Jewish and Holocaust memorials have been vandalized.

Members of a Jewish organization handed over 386 yellow stars like those Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis to parliamentary officials, one for every deputy in the Hungarian legislature. Hundreds of protesters attended an anti-Jobbik rally outside Parliament promoted on social media.

Gusztav Zoltai, a Holocaust survivor and one of the leaders of Hungary’s Jewish community, said he was disappointed about the lack of immediate reaction to Gyongyosi’s statements from other politicians present at the time, but was heartened by the crowd attending the rally.

“Much of the country is made up of decent people who protest together with us against these things,” Zoltai said.

Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover announced plans to change parliamentary rules and allow sanctions against deputies for statements or acts similar to Gyongyosi’s.

Gyongyosi made a qualified apology for his statements Tuesday, saying his call to screen Jews was directed only at dual Hungarian-Israeli citizens.

“Jobbik believes that the national security risk assessment … is important exclusively in the case of dual citizens,” Gyongyosi said in a note posted on Jobbik’s website. “I apologize to our Jewish compatriots for my equivocal statement.”

“Hungary should not be afraid of Jobbik but of Zionist Israel and those who are serving it from here,” Gyongyosi wrote.

International Jewish organizations also issued strong rebukes, comparing Gyongyosi’s words to those of the Nazis.

Source: Vos is Neis

Happy Hanukkah!

25 12 2011

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Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday, a Festival of Light, celebrated for eight days and nights. It starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar.

In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication”. This holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.

According to Jewish law, Hanukkah is one of the less important Jewish holidays. However, Hanukkah has become much more popular in modern practice because of its proximity to Christmas.

Hanukkah falls on the twenty-fifth day of the Jewish month of Kislev. Since the Jewish calendar is lunar based, every year the first day of Hanukkah falls on a different day – usually sometime between late November and late December. Because many Jews live in predominately Christian societies, over time Hanukkah has become much more festive and Christmas-like. Jewish children receive gifts for Hanukkah – often one gift for each of the eight nights of the holiday. Many parents hope that by making Hanukkah extra special their children won’t feel left out of all the Christmas festivities going on around them.

Every community has its unique Hanukkah traditions, but there are some traditions that are almost universally practiced. They are: lighting the hanukkiyah candleholder, spinning the dreidel  spinning wheel and eating fried foods.

Lighting the hanukkiyah: Every year it is customary to commemorate the miracle of the Hanukkah oil by lighting candles on a hanukkiyah. The hanukkiyah is lit every night for eight nights.

Spinning the dreidel: A popular Hanukkah game is spinning the dreidel, which is a four-sided top with Hebrew letters written on each side.  Gelt, which are chocolate coins covered with tin foil, are part of this game.

Eating fried foods: Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot during the holiday. Latkes are pancakes made out of potatoes and onions, which are fried in oil and then served with applesauce. Sufganiyot (singular: sufganiyah) are jelly-filled donuts that are fried and sometimes dusted with confectioners’ sugar before eating.

In the name of Central-European Religious Freedom Institute,
I wish Chag Urim Sameach to all members of Jewish community!

Jura Nanuk,
Central-European Religious Freedom Institute


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