Category: Chanukah

Chanukah and the Draydel

Let’s talk about draydels… you can spell it “draydel” or “dreidel”.
Do you know what a draydel is? Well, first of all, it is a four sided dancing top. Give it a twist, and it will dance and spin and prance and pirouette and when it’s out of energy,
The momentum will slow and the dancer will bow and then ever so gently fall – plop! On it’s NUN, GIMEL, Hay or SHIN side up.

Secondly, the dancing top has a magnificent story to tell us. Each of it’s four sides has one Hebrew letter. These letters stand for the Hebrew words “Nes Gadol Hayah Shim” – in English, this means “A great Miracle happened there.”

Tiny Israel, over 2000 years ago, was conquered by the Syrians (Greeks). The Israelis were not allowed to study Torah, circumcise their sons, learn Hebrew or practice their religion. After many, many years of this, a priestly family of Hasmonions from the little city of Mo’adim north of Jerusalem, started a revolution and after 3 years of “gorilla” warfare, they were able to take their country back! They were now free to worship G-d as they chose. They rededicated their Temple (chanukah means dedicate) and the story goes that there was only one bottle of consecrated oil to light the menorah in thev Temple – enough to last only one day. It is said it lasted a full eight days until more could be made!
That was the miracle. To me, the miracle was that a small dedicated-to G-d-and-His- Word group of soldiers won over the mighty army of their enemies!! We, as Believers today, have the same authority to win over the evil one in our lives. We can take back what we have lost and rededicate ourselves to the Lord! Isn’t that a great miracle?

These four letters make up a sprightly Chanukah game. Set a time limit for how long you want to play. Fifteen minutes might be right. Each player places an equal number of wrapped candies or ? in the center of a table. Seven would be good. Then the players sit around the table and take turns spinning the top and follows the instructions according to which letter is on top when the draydel stops.

NUN = nothing The player neither wins or loses anything.
GIMMEL = gets all
HAY = half goes back in the center of the table
SHIN = share, or put all you have back into the center of the table

Have fun and remember the real miracle!

 

From “The Source for Everything Jewish” and fjc 12/4/12

Shalom,                                                                                                       Sharaka

 

 

Chanukah, What’s it All About, Anyway?

Nobody told us, when we were in the Christian church, about Chanukah.
What is it and what’s it all about, anyway?

There are about 400 years of time between the “Old” and “New” Testaments. Four hundred ’silent’ years when we never heard anything from G-d. This is when the Alexander, the Great, conquered the tiny nation of Israel and marched into Jerusalem. He was friendly to the Jews and respected their beliefs. He conquered the whole known world and it is said he cried when there were no more nations to take over. He died a broken-hearted man at age 33. Having no sons, his top generals divided up his kingdom. Selucis took the northeast (Syria) and Ptolomy took the southwest (Egypt). These two dynasties fought constantly. One would march against the other and rape, rob and pillage little Israel on the way, taking control of its government.. Then when the other got strong enough, they would do the same. And there Israel was, right in the middle of everything. Sounds almost like today’s newspaper!

When the story of Chanukah begins, the northern kingdom of Syria, still Greek run, was “in”. Antiochus IV was the tyrannical leader. He actually gave himself the added name of Epiphanes, which means, “god in the flesh”. Behind his back, he was called Antiochus, Epimanes, (the madman). I think he was the original Borg! He tried to destroy the Nation of Israel – not by death but by assimilation. He wanted to kill their spirits. To do this, he tried to stop their Jewishness. No Torah study; no speaking Hebrew – Greek only; no circumcising or keeping the Sabbath. He had a huge statue of Zeus placed in the Temple and then inscribed his own face onto it. Some scholars say this likeness is what is found on the Shroud of Turin. On Kislev 25, he entered the Temple and had a large sow sacrificed. Broth was prepared from it and poured all over the holy books. He was truly one of the world’s most wicked men.

Greek soldiers were sent all over the land, setting up idols and forcing sacrifices of pigs. One such group entered the small village of Mo’adin, a few miles from Jerusalem and called the people together.
The most respected man in town, an old priest, Matityahu (Matthew in English), was called upon to make the sacrifice. He refused and another Jew stepped forward to do the job. Matityahu killed him with his sword and he and his five sons killed the rest of the soldiers, called the men to follow them into the hills where they could carry out gorilla warfare. Soon a large army gathered and in three years they had driven out the Greeks!

They entered the Temple on Kislev 25 – same date – three years later and began to cleanse it. They threw out all the unclean things, made a new altar and looked for oil with the seal of the high priest on it. Only one small flash could be found with only enough oil to burn in the menorah for one day. The people were rejoicing and waiting to hear the menorah was once again burning. They lit it anyway and it is said the menorah burned for eight days. Long enough for more oil to be prepared. This is the miracle of Chanukah. Some believe it this story was manufactured just to make it sound good. It was not recorded for some two hundred years. G-d certainly COULD have brought this about. Maybe He did – maybe He didn’t. To me, the real miracle is the fact that this small ragtag band of men were able to take over the Temple from mighty Greece! They got their Temple back, their religion back, their language back and their daughters back. This family of priests, the Hasmonean family were godly men above reproach. When Matityahu died, his son Yehudah took over. He was a real Rambo! He was such a good warrior that he was nick-named The Hammer, which is Maccabee in Hebrew. Sad to say, most of the sons were slain in battle and the last one, trusting no one else, made himself king. They were Levites – not from the tribe of Yehudah so this was a definite no-no! It only got worse from then on and by the time the first Herod came in, a hundred or so years later, the people were once again under foreign rule. The Romans this time. This is where the Book of Matityahu – Matthew – begins.

So what does all this mean to us today? A year after the Temple got back into Jewish hands, the sages decreed Kislev 25 to be a grand holy day and a celebration should take place for eight days. Why eight? Some say it was a re-do of Sukkot, because they had not come to Jerusalem to celebrate it properly; some say because circumcision was not allowed to take place on the eighth day, they would celebrate that long because now they were free to put their sons in covenant with G-d again. Who knows? We DO know that this time of Dedication, Y’shua went into the Temple to the Feast. He celebrated the Hasmonean victory. What they won was the right to be a set-apart people. A holy people of G-d who followed His Torah and all His ways. They wanted to remove themselves from the pagan practices around them. It was a bitter fight and many lost their lives. But it was worth it!

It is good to remember what happened back then. But it is good to look into our hearts today and see where we stand. Are WE willing to fight against the surrender of our language? our covenant with G-d? our keeping of the Sabbath? Are we willing to fight against paganism in every way – no matter what the cost? Every generation makes its choice. You can’t do it for your children. You can only teach them all you can and leave them in G-d’s hands.

And what about YOU? If you have never made the decision to follow G-d’s holy ways or asked Y’shua, His Son, to be your Saviour and Redeemer, today is the day! Don’t continue to steep yourself in the ways of the world – but come and join the winning side! I’ve read this whole Book
and G-d is the ultimate Victor! If you are already a Believer – simply rededicate your life to Him.
This can be the best Chanukah of your life! Just do it!

Chanukah 2004 = Eight days beginning Kislev 25
(Sunset December 7th – Sunset December 15th)

(five sons, Yohannan; Shimon; Yehudah, who was called Maccabeus; Eleazar, and Yonatan)

FYI = The word “Chanukah” in Hebrew means Dedication. It starts with the Hebrew letter, “chet”. It is a gutteral sound made in the throat – almost like a gargle. It’s too hard for many English speaking peoples so they have Americanized it by starting the word with an “h” instead, “Hanukkah”. You can’t misspell a Hebrew word in English as they are two different alphabets.
I still say it should be spelled “Chanukah“, and keep the “ch”…………… Let’s do it right!!!!

Chanukah – The Festival of Lights!

In the “Silent Years”, the 400 years between the old and new covenants, many events occurred which are not recorded in the Holy Book.  Alexander, the Great, came on the scene as the mighty Greek/Syrian conqueror of all the known world. He took everything he wanted and it’s recorded that he cried when he learned there were no lands left to conquer. He died of a broken heart before the age of 33. His empire was divided among four generals, Seleucus and Ptolemy becoming the strongest. The latter went south to headquarter in Egypt and Seleucus took the Syrian or eastern half. These two factions battled continually for supremacy and with tiny unprotected Israel in between, you can imagine the effect the wars had on the country.

About 170 BC, that many years before Y’shua was born, Antiochus IV, a Greek king, attacked Israel killing thousands. He banned all religious activity, especially keeping the Sabbath, the study of Torah and circumcision, the sign of God’s Covenant People. He defiled the Temple on Kislev 25, 168 or 167 BC, (on the Jewish calendar) by bringing in a large sow, slaughtering it upon the altar and pouring broth from it on the Holy Word of God. Antiochus was so vile that he added the name “Epiphanes” to his own – to mean `the visible god’. Anyone found with a new born circumcised baby boy was killed along with the whole family. Many other too-horrible-to-tell events occurred.

The Jews tried to do the best they could to continue to placate the Greeks and yet serve the One God. They invented a little game to play as they taught their children the Hebrew alef-bet. When soldiers came along they said they were just playing a game. It is still played today with a spinning four sided top called a Dreidel – which means “to spin”.

In the little village of Modi’in, just about three miles from Yerushalayim, an old priest named Matityahu lived with his five sons.  He truly loved God with all his heart and did his best to please Him. One day a band of soldiers came and ordered a pig to be sacrificed to Zeus, saying they would kill all who would not obey.  Matityahu refused and killed the first Jew that tried to offer the pig. Then he and his sons killed all the soldiers. It was time to stand for God and country. Many followed the old priest and his sons into the hills where they waged warfare on the Greek rulers. They were so relentless against their enemies that they were nicknamed “the Hammers”, or in the Hebrew “the Maccabees”.  When the old priest died, his son, Yehuda, took over as leader.  After a three year war they actually succeeded in driving out their enemies and taking back the land. This great day was Kislev 25 – again, 165 or 164 BC!  Kislev was a Babylonian name. The Hebrews did not name their months – or the days of the week. Kislev was/is the ninth month.

The Temple was defiled – some of it beyond repair. The old altar was torn down and replaced with new stones. New  vessels were made and all the area was cleansed.  Years before when the Tabernacle was built, God had ordered that the menorah, a seven branched candlestick be fashioned of gold and kept continually burning.  Pure sanctified olive oil was used as the fuel.  At last they were ready to rededicate the Temple for worship to God. All they needed was ritually pure oil!  Legend says only one bottle was to be found with the seal of the high priest still on it.  The people were assembled in victory waiting for the eternal light to blaze forth. It was decided to divide the oil into all the bowls and light them anyway – knowing they could only burn for one night. It would take eight long days to press more olive oil and prepare it for burning. The people did what they could and God took it from there – as He always does! It is said a great miracle occurred! The oil continued to burn for the full eight days. The Sages of that generation decreed that these eight days after the 25th of Kislev should be days of great rejoicing.  God Himself did not order this celebration, but it was done in His honor.   Special menorahs having nine lamps were made and made and everyone was to light their own chanukah menorah (called chanukiah) at sunset on Kislev 25 and for the next seven evenings.  In some families only one is used for everyone. They are placed in the front window for all the world to see.  We should always let every one see and hear of God’s miracles.

The first night the one on the far right is lighted by the shamash or servant candle and both are allowed to burn down (about a half hour). Each night one more candle is lighted until on the eighth night all nine are ablaze.  Special chanukah candles can be purchased in  rainbow colors for the occasion. Blessing are said first each night, thanking God for His mighty miracles.  This is a time to thank the Holy One of Israel  for  ALL  the miracles that He has done for us through the years and in our lives today. Yet to come is another Chanukah when the Temple will again be cleansed from the last Antiochus – the antiChrist – for he will rule for a time there before King Y’shua.

“Chanukah” means dedication.  It is a time to rededicate our lives to Him. This day is also believed to be the day Y’shua was conceived. He is The Light! It is a time to remember that we are to be His light today in a very wicked world.

(By the way, the “Ch” in Hebrew is pronounced
“KHah” with a little clearing of the throat sound…
it is sometimes spelled `Hanukkah’.)

Yochanon, (John) the beloved disciple, tells us in John 10:22 about Y’shua coming to the Temple in winter  (Kislev 25) to celebrate the Feast of Chanukah.  If it was good enough for Y’shua – it’s good enough for me!  If you drive past our house just after dark (and we’re home) any night during Chanukah, you’ll see our chanukiah lights burning in our window. Better yet, come on in and we’ll play dreidel!  We’ll have some potato latkes (fried in oil – to remember the miracle oil…)  some sufganiyot  (Israeli donuts) and praise God together for His great love.

Shalom  Shalom!
December 26, 2005  -   Kislev 25, 5766

Chanukah – Re-visited

“Shalom, favored one!” Gavri’el came to Miriam and proclaimed. “Don’t be afraid, for you have found favor with God. Look! You will become with Child; you will give birth to a Son and you are to name Him Y’shua. He will be great, He will be called the Son of HaElyon, Adonai – God …”
Luke 1:30-32 in David Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible

So Mary learned from G-d’s messenger, Gabriel, that she was chosen to be the human mother of Y’shua, the Light of the World. Did this historic happening occur on the Feast of Dedication/Feast of Lights as it is called in John 10:22?

We believe it did!

And so He was conceived on Kislev 25 (on the Jewish calendar) which occurs in the month of December.
We (Messianics) celebrate the incarnation of the Holy One at this time of year. His conception – not His birth. According to Scripture, He was then born nine months later on the first day of Sukkot, commonly called the Feast of Tabernacles, which occurs on Tishrei 15 on the Jewish calendar.

These are G-d’s dates given in Leviticus 23. G-d’s Holy Word is a Jewish book, written by Jews, with one exception, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. It was first written to Jews and later extended to include Gentiles. Y’shua was – and still is – a Jewish rabbi and He will return as a Jewish rabbi. If you celebrate His conception or don’t, it’s not nearly as important as believing Gabriel’s report and myriads of saints and martyrs who have given their lives to say, “I believe!”

The most important thing you can do in your whole life is to believe that Y’shua HaMashiach, or Jesus, the Christ, was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and that He became G-d in the flesh to live in this sinful world and to die for our sin so that we might forever live with Him. Give Him first place in your life and let Him live – dwell – tabernacle – forever with you.

G-d bless you and give you His shalom!

See you next time!                                                                                                                                                                               Shalom, SHARAKA

originally written 12/2002

Birth of Y’shua (Jesus) …

When was Y’shua REALLY born?

Most scholars have now concluded that Y’shua (Jesus) was NOT born on December 25th. Even so the “church” continues to celebrate it then – no matter what. So when WAS He born? It is a little known fact but one that can easily be found right in the Bible.

1. We can start with Zachariah the priest. It was his lot that was picked to burn incense in the Holy of Holies when the angel Gabriel appeared to him, informing him of the coming birth of his son and that he was to name him John. (Luke 1:8-13) We know what time of year he was there. We learn from the Book that his son, Yochanan the Immercer (John the Baptist,) was six months older than Y’shua. (Luke 1:26– 33) So when was John (Yochanan) born? Zachariah was a priest, a Levite of the course of Abijah – the eighth course. (Luke !:5) I Chronicles chapter 24, tells us about the courses or groups into which King David had divided the priests. Each course served in the Temple for one week in the beginning of the year, (Ex 12 says the beginning of the year is at Pesach in the Spring) one week in the last half of the year, and all priests served for one week during each of the three Pilgrimage Festivals, which are: Pesach, (Passover) Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) as shown in Lev. 23 . He would have served the 10th week. (He would have served the eighth week, but we need to add the two weeks for Pesach and Shavuot, making it the 10th week) It can be determined that he served in June/July. Counting for the two weeks of separation, (Lev) John would have been born at Pesach (Passover) in March or April. Y’shua, being six months younger, would have been conceived on Chanukah (November or December), and counting the nine months of pregnancy, been born in September or October. Remember, the Jewish calendar counts the months by the moon, each new month beginning on the new moon, whereas the Gregorian (Catholic) calendar month is calculated by the sun. It can be determined that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot in the Fall. Sukkot is called “the season of our joy” and all are commanded to be joyful! Why not!? The Saviour of all mankind was born and the world needs to rejoice at that! Since Sukkot is an eight day celebration – it would be natural to assume that He was circumcised on the eighth day. A must for all Jewish males who kept G-d’s law.

2. The only time the sheep were kept out in the fields in Beit Lechem, would have been at Sukkot. They were kept there in readiness for the sacrifice of Simhat Torah at the conclusion of Sukkot. Angels were said to proclaim, “Glory to God in the heavens and on the earth peace and good will toward the earth.” Sound familiar? This is recorded in the Talmud. (Hallel Five) Incidentally, all sheep raised for sacrifice at the Temple had to be raised within five miles of the Temple. Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock) was in Beit LeChem. The shepherds there were not unlearned men, they were Levitical priests who would have known about the Messiah being born there. They would have heard this proclamation every year! But this time it was said by a host of angels. No wonder they readily accepted the angelic message. He only comes where He is expected ….

3. Then there is King Herod. We know that “wise men” from the “east” came to him in Jerusalem, asking about the birth of the new King. The “wise men” were Jewish scholars who came from Babylon. Babylon is always referred to as “the east”. Remember when Daniel and many others were exiled to Babylon when Israel was conquered by the Babylonians? When the Jews were allowed to return to Israel, most chose to stay in Babylon, where they had jobs, families, houses and lands and had grown very comfortable. Why would they give it all up to go back to desolate Israel and start over? The “wise men” were their descendents. Who but a Jew would know the Jewish Scriptures and know enough to look for the Jewish Messiah coming out of Bethlehem? Another thing – we don’t know how many there were and certainly not their names. Some guess three because there were three gifts, but my guess is there were many more. Why travel all that long way unless you were in a larger, safer group? At any rate, they came and inquired of King Herod and you know the rest of the story. In those days a child was counted to be one year old at birth and so Herod really commanded all baby boys in Bethlehem one year and under be killed. History tells us that Herod died after a transgression against the Jews. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records the death of Herod around September, of 4 BCE (B.C.) So we are still in the right time frame. Put all that together and you have to know that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot!

Whenever He was born, it wasn’t in December. We can chose not to believe a lie and celebrate His birth at Sukkot. We can keep the day focused on Him and not all this crass commercialism that we see in December. However, let’s be patient and kind to those still blinded to the truth and let the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) do His work. One day when Messiah comes, He will bring us all truth! And I think ALL of us will be surprised!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

How to use this site:

Welcome to “Sharaka Shares”. Notice the list of entries on the right.
“Archives” and “Categories”. Click on the one you wish to see.

I suggest you choose the category “Chanukah” and you will see a short except from each of the 11 articles. To read the whole article, click on the title and it will come up.

I hope you will enjoy this website and use it for your prayerful consideration. Don’t take everything I say as absolute truth. Check it out with your Bible and ask G-d to speak to your heart about it. Only He has absolute truth on anything. We humans just keep searching for it and doing the best we can with what we’ve got!

Happy Chanukah !
Shalom, Sharaka

Chanukah – Light the Chanukiah

Blessings for Chanukah Lighting
The blessings to be said after lighting the shamesh every night are these:

Traditional:
“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzvivanu l‘hadlik ner shel Chanukah”. Blessed art Thou O Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and commanded us to light the Chanukah lights.” (G-d did NOT actually command us to light candles …ever… so we substitute this prayer instead.)

Messianic:
“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’divaro anachnu madlikim haneyrot ner shel Chunukah. Blessed art Thou O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy command ments and in whose name we kindle the Chanukah lights.”

“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech h’olam, assher natan lanu chagim, min h’gim, oomo’adim, l’simcha, l’chgdil et da’at Adonai, v’livnot o tan lanu b’emunah kidosha v’na’ahlah.
Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has given us holy days, customs and times of happiness, to increase knowledge of G-d and to build us up in our most holy faith.

“Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our G-d, King of the universe, didst perform miracles for our fathers in those days at this season. We kindle these lights to commemorate the miracles and wonders, the victorious battles that that Thou hast achieved for our fathers in those days at this season, through Thy Holy Priest, Y’shua. During all the eight days of Chanukah, these lights are sacred and we are not permitted to make use of them; but are only to look upon them in order to give thanks and to praise Thy Name for Thy miracles, wonders and Thy salvation.”

Light the candles after dark and sing songs of your choice which bring glory to G-d. You may want to have a theme for each night. Your candles should burn for at least a half hour. They should be in a window facing the street to be a witness to passers by. Otherwise a table will do.

Chanukah is the time for family, community, education and thankfulness to G-d for His miracles! Be sure to spend time in the Word and in Prayer.

How To Light the Chanukiah

First night: Well after sunset, place your chanukiah in a front window where it can be seen from the street.

If this is not safe – use your fireplace mantle, dining room table or other suitable place. I put an electric chanukiah in my front window and the “real” one on my dining room table.

Place a special chanukah candle in the far right holder.

Say the Shehechianu (first night only) and the other blessing.

Light the candle with the shamish (the center (or tallest) candle.

Other nights: Place the candles, starting on the right side and moving to the left, adding one new candle each night.

Say the blessing. Use the shamish and light from the left to the right.

On the eighth night – they will all be lit.

Do not use the light for reading or any other practical function.
It is lit only to honor G-d.

Before Lighting Blessings

1)The “Shehechianu” to be said on first night only = “Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu, vekiyemanu vehigi’anu lazman hazeh.” (Blessed art Thou, O L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has given us life, and sustained us, and brought us to this season.)
2) “Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech ha’olam, she’asah nisim la’avotenu, bayamim hahem bazeman hazeh.” (Blessed art Thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has done miracles for our fathers in days gone by, at this season.)

Let the candles burn out, do not extinquish them and do not use them for reading or any other purpose. They are only to be used as a memorial.

Enjoy the holiday!
See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
***************************************

The Last Night —–

We lit the last of the candles tonight. It was a little sad. I love each holiday (you know we used to call them Holy Days) the most as it comes. After I quit being sad to see it end, I brighten up and begin to think about the next one! I ‘spose it’s the child in me.

We read some Chanukah Scriptures tonight. Y’shua is hinted at in B’resheet in the very first chapters of the Bible. Verse 26 says, “Let us make …” Who is “us“? I believe it was Y’shua.

Chapter 3 – v. 8 = “And they heard the voice of Adonai walking in the garden…..” If G-d is a Spirit – He has no body. Was this Y’shua walking there? A theophany. Y’shua is the Living Torah – the Word of G-d. He has always been here. He said, “Before Abraham was – I was.” We can find Him in every Book of the Bible. He is the alpha and the omega – the aleph and the tav or the A to the Z. He is the beginning and the end. He is our everything!

In the same Chapter, verse 15 talks about the seed of the woman (Y’shua). Only here and once in the Book of Ruth does it speak of the “seed of the woman”. In both cases, I believe He was speaking of Y’shua. Women don’t have “seed”. Y’shua was to “bruise his head” (speaking of satan) and satan was “to bruise His heel”. Satan did cause Y’shua to be “bruised” but Y’shua crushed satan’s “head” or his authority at the cross.

Again still in the 3rd Chapter – it tells where G-d killed (bet it was a lamb….) and made clothes from the skins. Innocent blood was shed as a covering for man. Doesn’t it make you think of Y’shua and the sacrifice of Himself as a covering for our sin?

Bethlehem (Beit LeChem – the House of Bread) is spoken of as the birthplace of Y’shua. The 53rd Chapter of Isaiah is all about Y’shua.

And so we come to Luke, Chapter 1, vs 31, where the angel, Gabri’el, makes the announcement to Miryam (Mary) that she had been chosen to bring the Messiah into the world. Many of us believe this was at the time of Chanukah – Kislev 25. After all, He said He was the “Light of the World”, and Chanukah is the Festival of Lights! Nine months later brings us to the first day of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles – Leviticus 23). If He died on Pesach (Passover) in the spring, that is 6 months away from Chanukah, which falls in December. Most scholars say he was 33 and 1/2 when He died. I believe He was born on the first day of Sukkot and circumcized eight days later – on the last day of Sukkot. Makes sense to me! What do you think?

It’s almost over! :o(

Chanukah is a holiday with the same theme as most Jewish holidays. “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!”

We have enjoyed this Chanukah so much! Our Congregational Party was great and it was so good to see old friends come and enjoy it with us.

Our times at home have been special, too, and now there is only one more night! :o Tomorrow night we are going to read all the Scriptures we can find about the conception of Y’shua – what Gabriel said to Miryam and the ones about Beit Lechem and many others. I’m so glad He left all the glories of heaven and came as that tiny baby to live among us.

What a Saviour!

Enjoy your last sufganiyot and batch of latkes….. and before you know it Purim will be here!

Blessings! See you tomorrow —
Sharaka

Chanukah Lights Dancing

This is a sad/joyous piece from Aish.com. The author is a Jewish woman who experienced this situation of one of her patients dying. I am posting it because it gives us opportunity to examine our own lives and see where we stand before Almighty G-d. As long as we have breath, we can make the decision to turn everything over to Him and let Him be the Lord of our lives. “It is given unto to man once to die and after that the Judgment.” If you have never made this decision to serve Him – I urge you to consider doing so this beautiful season. You can begin a new life, washed in the blood of the Lamb and make your home in the Olam Haba (Eternity – or the world to come) with Him. My friend, Dawn, e-mailed me this morning that her father had died. She prayed for him for years and he at last responded. No one knows who will be next. Please read and consider. If you are already a Believer, determine now to draw closer to G-d and begin to gather those to take with you! We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.


Dancing Chanukah Lights

by Dr. Jackie Yaris

Chanukah’s tiny lights brazenly face the night’s bitter challenge, transforming the harsh edge of fear into a soft caress of hope.

There is perhaps nothing as cold and terrifying as a midwinter night. Even the moon, usually low and welcoming, takes its retreat. It and its minion of stars glare angrily in the distance, the white light offering no respite. I think it is because of the intensity of the darkness that I have always found the candles of Chanukah so intriguing. Their tiny lights brazenly face the night’s bitter challenge, and victorious, transform the harsh edge of fear into a soft caress of hope. Bathed in the candles’ magical hue of triumph, the eight nights of Chanukah have always been a special time for me.

Oddly enough, none was more special than the one I spent as an intern on the oncology ward. It was December, six months into my internship, and I was bleary with exhaustion and staggering toward January — my much awaited vacation. I remember thinking how apropos it was that during the darkest month of the year, I would be seeing patients dealing with probably the bleakest time of their lives. To alleviate some of the inherent gravity of the ward, the staff had attempted to infuse it with holiday cheer — but the fluorescent lights had jaundiced even the brightest Xmas tree and Chanukah menorah, and all appeared sickly greenish.

After a few weeks of seeing so many tragic cases, and so much suffering, and now completely convinced that everyone I knew had an as-of-yet undiagnosed cancer lurking within them, my outlook became morose and depressed.

Until I met Claire.

A 57-year-old woman, she had been admitted for a two week course of chemo. Cancer has a nasty habit of revisiting its previous victims — often with a far more lethal type, and two months earlier Claire had been diagnosed with a rare, aggressive blood cancer, just eight years after successful treatment for bone cancer.

These stark facts defined her medically, but they did not at all describe the whirlwind that was Claire.

When I walked in to her room, I was heartily greeted by a bright-eyed woman, wearing an orange turban, gigantic hoop earrings, and a huge smile.

“Hello! My new doctor!” she exclaimed and proceeded to fill me in on all the medical details she knew I would be asking. Clearly, she had been through this before.

“But now, tell me about you,” she smiled.

I was surprised. Understandably, patients in similar situations are typically reeling, and by necessity focus inward. But not Claire; she radiated outward with such genuine interest that I started talking. As I did, I noticed the myriad of photos that had already begun to fill her walls — of old people, young people but always with Claire, grinning widely, lighting up the center. Somehow, in such a short time, she had managed to transform the drab, antiseptic hospital room to a place of color and warmth.

Over the next few weeks, I gravitated to her room. I met her husband of 35 years. A successful law partner, he was her perfect foil — serious where she was light, reserved where she was effervescent — always the straight man to her joke. But his devotion sparked in his eyes, and it was obvious how much he needed her. His taut jaw only slackened when he spoke to her, the warm loving tones reserved only for her.

Her large group of friends was also very involved. I especially related to her two grown kids — both in fledgling careers, her daughter with a young family back east, their drawn faces made it clear how torn they were between their many responsibilities and their hearts that were breaking.

When I became a doctor, I did it to give. I think Claire was the first patient to make me realize how much I would receive, and also, how much I would care. I marveled how even through pain and fear, she seized life vehemently. She lit up her bleak circumstances, and in so doing challenged me to assess my own. Her strength, wisdom and poise, and many others since her, has forever humbled me to the incredible radiance of the human spirit.

I will never forget my last night on call that month — it happened to be the first night of Chanukah. When I went to visit Clare, she sat in a darkened room, transfixed by the plastic bulbs on the hospital’s sterile menorah, sitting on the windowsill. “What a pathetic imitation,” I thought as I glanced at the menorah.

But Claire was thrilled. “I’ve always loved Chanukah candles. They are so hopeful.”

Only then did I notice how even the dim bulbs reflected on the window and seemed to glitter with the city lights beyond. She continued in a low voice, “You know, I wasn’t supposed to make it last time…”

I did know that. Her oncologist told me that it was practically a miracle she had survived the first cancer, and that he was shocked at how well she was responding to this treatment. “These past eight years have been such a gift. We’ve traveled … I’ve gotten to know two grandkids…” Her voice wavered a bit. “I’ll make it again, I know it.”

My throat caught, so all I could do was nod.

“Come look at these new pictures,” she brightened as she picked them up from her bedside. “Can you believe it? My husband planned a 35th wedding anniversary party — he bought everyone these wigs so I wouldn’t be alone.”

I looked and saw many of the people I recognized — all laughing and wearing rainbow clown wigs. “A bunch of old, serious people in these silly wigs… We danced until one in the morning!” Claire shook her head, tears glistening in her eyes. “It was so ridiculous! But, oh, how we danced …” her voice trailed off.

And there we sat, into the night, looking at pictures of dancing clowns, lit by the weird orange blush of a plastic menorah.

The next day was the start of my vacation month. Claire was scheduled to leave as soon as her infection-fighting white blood cells had risen.

Four weeks later, after my vacation, I walked into the ICU for my next rotation. I blanched when I saw Claire’s name on the board.

With dread, I looked through her chart — my worst fears were realized. Her white blood cells had never rebounded, and left susceptible, she contracted one of the most deadly infections: fungal pneumonia. She had been in the ICU for three and a half weeks, in a coma for the past two, and was now on full life support. Fluid filled both her lungs, her kidneys had failed, and her liver was beginning to deteriorate.

I glanced over at her room and saw her husband, crumpled against the doorway for support. His clenched jaw and gaunt grey face made evident the horror of the past month, as he watched her, biting his lip. When I went to her room, he barely looked up, and shook his head. As I looked in, even I was shocked. Her room which once reverberated with laughter and light was now eerily quiet, save for the rhythmic wheeze of the ventilator. Bloated, bald and pale, she was completely still except for the forced ventilations. I gulped when my eyes fixed on the one bit of color in the room — a picture of the laughing, rainbow-wigged dancers, taped to an IV pole.

Her husband whispered, “It’s not working… the next time her heart stops, we’re not going to resuscitate her. It’s… it’s time…”

I knew that with multi-organ failure like she had, it wouldn’t take long, and it didn’t. The next day her heart started to fail. When it gets into trouble, the heart sends out electrical signals of distress and the heart monitor’s once dependable heartbeat line quivers uncertainly. After I saw that on the screen, I went in to tell the family it was happening, but they already knew and surrounded her bed telling her how much they loved her. I went back to the monitor. As a physician, there is nothing more surreal than watching a monitor as a patient dies. It is at once completely detached, yet also startlingly personal. As it gets more fatigued, the heart’s line quivers more and more frequently, until, spent, the heart fibrillates its final goodbye, the line twitches furiously and then nothing … the line goes flat and that’s it.

I went in to her room to pronounce her dead. Even before I put my stethoscope on her silent chest and felt her cool pulseless wrist, I knew the spirit was out of her body. I shivered, however, when I realized I could feel her sweet essence still lingering around us.

I hugged the family and left.

Even now, over ten years later, on the first night of Chanukah, after the latkes are eaten and the presents are opened, I sit in a darkened room and watch as the candles burn down. I strain to hear the tiny “sss” as the last wisp of smoke fills the air with its sweet burnt essence. The best part, though, is right before the candles succumb and are still lit. I am amazed that as they face the coming darkness, perhaps in spite of it, they glow so brilliantly. And that even as they approach the very end, they continue to flutter and dance. And, oh, how they dance.

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This article can also be read at: http://www.aish.com/chanukahstories/chanukahstoriesdefault/Chanukah_Lights_Dancing.asp

Author Biography:
Jackie Yaris is a physician practicing internal medicine in Beverly Hills, Ca. She is also a wife and the mother of three young children.

“A Parakeet named Dreidel”

Chanukah is a great time to gather the family together, eat something tasty and share stories. This is one of my favorites!

A Parakeet Named Dreidel

It happened about ten years ago in Brooklyn, New York. All day long a heavy snow was falling. Toward evening the sky cleared and a few stars appeared. A frost set in. It was the eighth day of Chanukah, and my silver Chanukah lamp stood on our window sill with all the candles burning. It was mirrored on the window pane. And I imagined another lamp outside.

My wife, Esther, was frying latkes. I sat with my son, David, at a table and played dreidel with him. Suddenly David cried out, “Papa, look!” And he pointed to the window.
I looked up and saw something that seemed unbelievable. Outside on the windowsill stood a yellow-green bird watching the candles. In a moment, I understood what had happened. A parakeet had escaped from its home somewhere and had flown out into the cold street and landed on our windowsill, perhaps attracted by the light.

A parakeet’s native to a warm climate and it cannot stand the cold and frost for very long
I immediately took steps to keep the bird from freezing. First I carried away the Chanukah lamp so that the bird would not burn himself when entering. Then I opened the window and with a quick wave of my hand shooed the parakeet inside. The whole thing took only a few seconds.

In the beginning, the frightened bird flew from wall to wall. It hit itself against the ceiling and for a while hung from a crystal prism on the chandelier. David tried to calm it, “Don’t be afraid little bird, we are your friends.” Presently, the bird flew toward David and landed on his head, as though he had been trained and was accustomed to people. David began to dance and laugh with joy! My wife in the kitchen heard the noise and came out to see what had happened. When she saw the bird on David’s head, she asked, “Where did you get a bird all of a sudden?”

“Mama, it just came to our window.”
“To the window in the middle of winter?”
“Papa saved it’s life!”

The bird was not afraid of us. David lifted his hand to his forehead and the bird settled on his finger. Esther placed a saucer of millet and a dish of water on the table and the parakeet ate and drank. It saw the dreidel and began to push it with its beak. David exclaimed, “Look, the bird plays dreidel!”

David soon began to talk about buying a cage for the bird and also about giving it a name, but Esther and I reminded him that the bird was not ours. We would try to find the owners who were probably missed their pet and were very worried about what had happened to it in the icy weather. David said, “Meanwhile, let’s call it Dreidel.”

That night Dreidel slept on a picture frame and woke us in the morning with its singing. The bird stood on the frame, its plumage brilliant in the purple light of the rising sun, shaking as in prayer, whistling, twittering and talking all at once at the same time. The parakeet must have belonged to a house where Yiddish was spoken, because we heard it say, “Zeldele, geh schlofen” which means “Zeldele, go to sleep.” and these simple words uttered by the tiny creature filled us with wonder and delight.

The next day I posted a notice in the elevators of the neighborhood houses. It said we had found a Yiddish speaking parakeet. When a few days passed and none called, I advertised in the newspaper for which I wrote but a week went by and none claimed the bird. Only then did Dreidel become ours. We bought a large cage with all the fittings and toys that a bird might want, but because Chanukah is a festival of freedom, we resolved never to lock the cage.
Dreidel was free to fly around the house whenever he pleased. The man at the pet shop told us he was a male so we knew it was a “he”.

Nine years passed and Dreidel remained with us We became more and more attached to him. At our house he learned scores of Yiddish, English and Hebrew words. David taught him to sing a Chanukah song and there was always a wooden dreidel in his cage for him to play with. When I wrote on my Yiddish typewriter, Dreidel would cling to the index finger of either my right hand or my left, jumping acrobatically with every letter I wrote. Esther often joked that Dreidel was helping me write and that he should be entitled to half my earnings.

Our son, David, grew up and entered college. One winter night he went to a Chanukah party. He told us he would be home late and Esther and I went to bed early. We had just fallen asleep when the telephone rang. It was David. As a rule he is a quiet and composed young man.This time he spoke so excitedly that we could barely understand what he was saying. It seemed that David had told the story of our parakeet to his fellow students at the party and a girl named Zelda Rosen exclaimed, “I am this Zeldele! We lost our parakeet nine years ago.” Zelda and her parents lived not far from us but they had never seen the notice in the newspaper or the ones posted on the elevators. Zelda was now a student and a friend of David’s. She had never visited us before but our son often spoke about her to his mother.

We slept little that night. The next day, Zelda and her parents came to see their long-lost pet. Zelda was a beautiful and gifted girl. David often took her to the theater and museums. Not only did the Rosens recognize their bird, but he seemed to recognize his former owners. The Rosens used to call him, Tsip-Tsip, and when the parakeet heard say, “Tsip-Tsip”, he became flustered and began to fly from one member of the family to the other, screeching and flapping his wings. Both Zelda and her mother cried when they saw their beloved bird alive. The father stared silently. Then he quietly said, “We have never forgotten our Tsip-tsip.”

I was ready to return the parakeet to its original owners, but Esther and David said they could never part with Dreidel. It was also not necessary because that day, David and Zelda decided to get married after graduation from college. So Dreidel is still with us, always eager to learn new words and new games. When David and Zelda marry, they will take Dreidel with them to their new home. Zelda has often said, “Dreidel was our matchmaker.”

On Chanukah he always gets a gift – a mirror, a ladder, a bathtub, a swing or a jingle bell. He has even developed a taste for potato pancakes, as befits a parakeet named Dreidel!

*************************************************************

Chappy Chanukah!

This story is one of eight – one for each night – for Chanukah, written by Isaac Bashevis Singer, from the book called “The Power of Light”. A Sunburst Book written in 1980. # 80-20263

Ancient Modi’in

Some interesting tidbits from the “net” about the city where the Chanukah revolt began …

Ancient Modi’in

The modern city of Modi’in, built in the vicinity of the ancient
Modi’in of Hannukah’s Maccabees, is proving to be an archaeological
treasure, as well.

Recently, archaeologists working not far from the city unearthed the
remains of a synagogue from the country’s Persian period. It is the
only synagogue from that period thus far found in Israel. The remains of the ancient site were initially discovered as road work proceeded on a new road for the region. According to the Jewish Agency’s Global Jewish Agenda, “The remains attest to the existence of a Jewish settlement, which was established in the Second Century BCE, during the Hellenistic-Hasmonean period, and continued through the early Roman period, until the Bar Kochba revolt in the first half of the Second Century CE.”

The Agenda explains, “The discovery of hidden trenches has led
researchers to conclude that passing foreign armies burned the
village, causing its residents to flee, and later return and rebuild
it.” Modern preservation works include stabilizing the walls,
installing drainage to handle rain waters, and the construction of
footpaths. The site is not yet open to the public, reports the Jewish
Agency, “but the various organizations involved are busy preparing
the master plan to preserve, develop, and maintain the site.”

The Persian period synagogue is the latest of the evidence found in
Modi’in attesting to an ancient Jewish city in the vicinity. At the
center of the modern city, there is a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath)
from the Second Temple period, a Byzantine fortress, ancient wells
and evidence of agricultural settlement. In addition, not far from
the city, archaeologists have turned up an ancient cemetery.

What’s It All About, Anyway?

“What’s It All About, Anyway?”

Nobody told us, when we were in the Christian church, about Chanukah.
What is it and what’s it all about, anyway?

There are about 400 years of time between the “Old” and “New” Testaments. Four hundred ‘silent’ years when we never heard anything from G-d. This is when the Alexander, the Great, conquered the tiny nation of Israel and marched into Jerusalem. He was friendly to the Jews and respected their beliefs. He conquered the whole known world and it is said he cried when there were no more nations to take over. He died a broken-hearted man at age 33. Having no sons, his top generals divided up his kingdom. Selucis took the northeast (Syria) and Ptolomy took the southwest (Egypt). These two dynasties fought constantly. One would march against the other and rape, rob and pillage little Israel on the way, taking control of its government.. Then when the other got strong enough, they would do the same. And there Israel was, right in the middle of everything. Sounds almost like today’s newspaper!

When the story of Chanukah begins, the northern kingdom of Syria, still Greek run, was “in”. Antiochus IV was the tyrannical leader. He actually gave himself the added name of Epiphanes, which means, “god in the flesh”. Behind his back, he was called Antiochus, Epimanes, (the madman). I think he was the original Borg! He tried to destroy the Nation of Israel – not by death but by assimilation. He wanted to kill their spirits. To do this, he tried to stop their Jewishness. No Torah study; no speaking Hebrew – Greek only; no circumcising or keeping the Sabbath. He had a huge statue of Zeus placed in the Temple and then inscribed his own face onto it. Some scholars say this likeness is what is found on the Shroud of Turin. On Kislev 25, he entered the Temple and had a large sow sacrificed. Broth was prepared from it and poured all over the holy books. He was truly one of the world’s most wicked men.

Greek soldiers were sent all over the land, setting up idols and forcing sacrifices of pigs. One such group entered the small village of Mo’adin, a few miles from Jerusalem and called the people together.
The most respected man in town, an old priest, Matityahu (Matthew in English), was called upon to make the sacrifice. He refused and another Jew stepped forward to do the job. Matityahu killed him with his sword and he and his five sons killed the rest of the soldiers, called the men to follow them into the hills where they could carry out gorilla warfare. Soon a large army gathered and in three years they had driven out the Greeks!

They entered the Temple on Kislev 25 – same date – three years later and began to cleanse it. They threw out all the unclean things, made a new altar and looked for oil with the seal of the high priest on it. Only one small flash could be found with only enough oil to burn in the menorah for one day. The people were rejoicing and waiting to hear the menorah was once again burning. They lit it anyway and it is said the menorah burned for eight days. Long enough for more oil to be prepared. This is the miracle of Chanukah. Some believe it this story was manufactured just to make it sound good. It was not recorded for some two hundred years. G-d certainly COULD have brought this about. Maybe He did – maybe He didn’t. To me, the real miracle is the fact that this small ragtag band of men were able to take over the Temple from mighty Greece! They got their Temple back, their religion back, their language back and their daughters back. This family of priests, the Hasmonean family were godly men above reproach. When Matityahu died, his son Yehudah took over. He was a real Rambo! He was such a good warrior that he was nick-named The Hammer, which is Maccabee in Hebrew. Sad to say, most of the sons were slain in battle and the last one, trusting no one else, made himself king. They were Levites – not from the tribe of Yehudah so this was a definite no-no! It only got worse from then on and by the time the first Herod came in, a hundred or so years later, the people were once again under foreign rule. The Romans this time. This is where the Book of Matityahu – Matthew – begins.

So what does all this mean to us today? A year after the Temple got back into Jewish hands, the sages decreed Kislev 25 to be a grand holy day and a celebration should take place for eight days. Why eight? Some say it was a re-do of Sukkot, because they had not come to Jerusalem to celebrate it properly; some say because circumcision was not allowed to take place on the eighth day, they would celebrate that long because now they were free to put their sons in covenant with G-d again. Who knows? We DO know that this time of Dedication, Y’shua went into the Temple to the Feast. He celebrated the Hasmonean victory. What they won was the right to be a set-apart people. A holy people of G-d who followed His Torah and all His ways. They wanted to remove themselves from the pagan practices around them. It was a bitter fight and many lost their lives. But it was worth it!

It is good to remember what happened back then. But it is good to look into our hearts today and see where we stand. Are WE willing to fight against the surrender of our language? our covenant with G-d? our keeping of the Sabbath? Are we willing to fight against paganism in every way – no matter what the cost? Every generation makes its choice. You can’t do it for your children. You can only teach them all you can and leave them in G-d’s hands.

And what about YOU? If you have never made the decision to follow G-d’s holy ways or asked Y’shua, His Son, to be your Saviour and Redeemer, today is the day! Don’t continue to steep yourself in the ways of the world – but come and join the winning side! I’ve read this whole Book
and G-d is the ultimate Victor! If you are already a Believer – simply rededicate your life to Him.
This can be the best Chanukah of your life! Just do it!

Chanukah 2004 = Eight days beginning Kislev 25
(Sunset December 7th – Sunset December 15th)

(five sons, Yohannan; Shimon; Yehudah, who was called Maccabeus; Eleazar, and Yonatan)

FYI = The word “Chanukah” in Hebrew means Dedication. It starts with the Hebrew letter, “chet”. It is a gutteral sound made in the throat – almost like a gargle. It’s too hard for many English speaking peoples so they have Americanized it by starting the word with an “h” instead, “Hanukkah”. You can’t misspell a Hebrew word in English as they are two different alphabets.
I still say it should be spelled “Chanukah“, and keep the “ch”…………… Let’s do it right!!!!

A different Latke recipe – try it!

These latke recipes will appear in Susie’s forthcoming book “Kosher by Design Entertains.” Release date: February 2005.

Cajun Sweet Potato Latkes

2 pounds (about 3 large) sweet potatoes, peeled
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
peanut oil
sour cream

Using the coarse grating disc of a food processor, grate the sweet potatoes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. Sprinkle the Cajun spice blend into the eggs and whisk. Mix in the cilantro.

Add egg mixture to the grated potatoes.

In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil until very hot but not smoking. If you are using a thermometer, get the oil to 375 degrees.

Add the sweet potato mixture 1/4 cup at a time. Fry until golden, flip and fry until golden on the other side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the potatoes are used.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Yield: 14-18 latkes

Lite Latkes

Here’s a recipe for Chanukah that you may enjoy – almost guilt free!
It came from Weight Watchers.

Lite Latkes
Recipes
chanukah potato pancakes

Servings | 5
Preparation Time | 5 min
Cooking Time | 7 min
Level of Difficulty | Easy

light meals | Try these tasty potato pancakes for your next holiday meal.

Ingredients

1 1/4 pound potato(es), peeled and shredded
2 medium egg white(s)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 medium scallion(s), minced
3/4 tsp table salt
4 tsp vegetable oil

Instructions

Soak the potatoes in cold water 30 minutes; drain and blot dry. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, egg whites, flour, scallions and salt. Form into 12 pancakes.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat one third of the oil. Cook the pancakes, 4 at a time, until just golden, about 2 minutes on each side; transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining oil and pancakes. Bake until crisp and cooked through, 5-7 minutes.

The Feast of Dedication

Chanukah: Season of Miracles

.. Nobody likes winter – it’s cold, dark and dreary. Even if you enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, skating and other winter activities, you really don’t enjoy the dreariness of the season. You need something to brighten it up a bit! Everybody does… The

.. Druids had their solstice and they worshipped trees. Apples were tied to branches and Odin, one of their gods, was thanked for `blessing them with fruitfulness’. They also adorned the boughs with lighted candles in honor of the sun god. The

.. Nordics had Yule Logs to light (Swedes still say “God Jul!” instead of `Merry Christmas’) Cold and hunger in the northland caused them to make ritual fires to quell the 24 hour a day darkness. They were afraid the sun might never come back. When the days began to lengthen once again a great mid-winter celebration was made. The

.. Romans had their Saturnalia, the Feast of December 25th, to honor their god – Saturn. All work was suspended, slaves given temporary freedom to do as they pleased, gifts were exchanged and a Mardi Gras madness took over the streets. The holiday was complete with decorated evergreens, fertility rites (using mistletoe), ivy which brought `good luck’ and holly, which was to protect from `the evil eye’. (Encyclopaedia Britanica) Does any of this stuff sound familiar? What does it have to do with Y’shua/Jesus?

.. ‘The Church’, in A.D. 375, all of a sudden announced they had `discovered’ Christ’s date of birth – December 25th! (How convenient) and Christians began to celebrate Christ’s birth in the 4th Century. The Bible does not give the specific date (although one can find a date through Zacharias, the priest, if you search for it) of His birth nor does it make any mention of celebrating it. We were told instead to celebrate His death and resurrection. Many scholars agree He was born in the Fall.

Was there ever a real Christmas? Yes, almost! There was a Christ Mass. “A Mass is the Catholic celebration of Holy Eucharist or Communion.” The Roman Church attempted to incorporate these earlier pagan practices into the Mass for Christ. (If you can’t beat ‘em – join ‘em?) The Church probably intended for its influence to rub off on the pagans but the Church became paganized instead. All past rituals took on `Christian’ meanings and life went on as usual … Now some of us are beginning to wonder why Christmas, as the word has shortened to, has to fight for space with jack o’lanterns for the Witch’s Holiday in October. ?? —- is it really all just glitz after all? Has it come to most of our world as a `mad-rush-mid-winter’ celebration? If it were truly a `Christian’ holiday, the ACLU would have done away with it completely long ago. Some retailers make over 40% + of their yearly profits in December. Where is Y’shua (Jesus)? How does He feel about compromise?

The Jews dug up and revitalized Chanukah (not to be outdone by the Christians?) even to deciding they should give gifts after lighting the candles. We all know the story of Chanukah. You might say Alexander, the Great, (who was educated by Aristotle) started it about 200 years before the Maccabees.. He conquered the known world and through that act the Pig Man, Antiochus IV, came to power and tried to destroy the Jews and their G-d by assimilation. The Temple was left in ruins. The miracle oil story was never mentioned in either Book of Maccabees; (part of the Apocrypha) only in the Talmud seven centuries later. It’s a great story which may or may not be true.

The Temple WAS rededicated and that’s a miracle I can relate to. We all need to rededicate ourselves, the Temple where G-d now dwells. The blessings that we say here are great – especially the Shehechianu, which all of us should have constantly in mind.

Nehemiah 8:1-12, one of my most favorite stories, tells about finding the Torah (G-d’s Word) that had been lost for such a long time. The people were so moved. Emotions ran high and there was great rejoicing. I believe we are finding and returning at last to some original beliefs. It is time to rejoice!

The people of the New Testament had this Holy Day. John 10:22 speaks of it as the Celebration of Dedication. If it was good enough for Y’shua – it’s good enough for me!

We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Pioneers of the Faith. We need to learn about these people and remember them. (We will be talking to them in Heaven and I don’t want to embarrass myself with my ignorance!) Let’s not forget those in our own time who have paved the way for us. Ruth Specter Lascelle was probably the first in our area to bring our roots to light. Her grandfather was a Jerusalem Rabbi and she found her Messiah many years ago and became a minister with the Assemblies of G-d, taught at the Seattle Bible Training School for years, spoke in many churches all over the country and is even now (in her 80′s) working on her 16th book.

Polly, a Jewess and Dick (Dr. Richard) Perkins, found salvation at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ballard in the early 70′s and rather than “Gentilizing” the faith she soon began to find ways to serve the Lord that continued her Jewishness. They started services in their home for Jews that still wanted to be Jewish before any Messianic Congregations were even thought of here. Joe Good, a Southern Baptist boy, who wanted to reach his Jewish brother-in-law, has been such a blessing to those of us who are searching for `the Truth’ that has been lost. The Holy Spirit has led him to early church practices forgotten for almost two millennia. He taught on TBN for a time and has reached many with his books, tapes and lectures. We honor these people and many others, as well as the God who changed their lives in such a way as to bless us. Chanukah can remind us of these things, too, and remind us how blessed we are to live in a land where we are still free and can freely and safely share His Word. I think we must remember and be thankful for the great sacrifices made by those who have gone before us. Many have given their lives, that we might have His Word, giving us the opportunity to know Him. I also think we should realize we must be ready if we are called upon to make such a sacrifice.

So I say, “Celebrate! – it’s a Miracle!
Salvation is a Miracle! Life is a Miracle!
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