Celebrating Hanukkah, American Style

When Jews came to America, they put their own unique stamp on the celebration of the Festival of Lights. David Geffen notes some examples:

We are informed by a daily San Francisco newspaper that, on December 26, 1897, a Hanukkah celebration was held that day at the Bush Street Temple. The children performed intricate marches carrying the American flag. Following that there were recitations about Hanukkah, Judah Maccabee, and the miracle of the oil burning for eight days. “Many candelabra were lit as the prayers were recited.”

Rabbi Isidore Myers spoke to those assembled, young and old. “To be regarded with favor by God, you must show how much you can do to spread the truth. Show your pride,” he continued, “to your noble ancestors by your own heroism, remembering that the true hero is the one who does God’s will. Let us follow the example of the noted Judah Maccabee.”

The Hanukkah celebration ended that day with everyone, old and young, singing [a patriotic song]. It is fascinating how in various periods when the U.S. was at war, Jews emphasized their patriotism. . . . In this case, embattled America was fighting in the Spanish-American War, where Jews were serving alongside their Gentile compatriots.

And while the giving of gifts on Hanukkah was a largely American innovation, Geffen notes that 100 years ago, Jews, proportionally, gave more gifts on the holiday than did Christians on Christmas.

Read more at Atlanta Jewish Times

More about: American Jewish History, American Judaism, Hanukkah


Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship