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I love to design t shirts, I love to travel and I love photography. I'm also a committed Jew, so my work reflects these elements.

We Don’t All Do It The Same Way- Different Passover Seder Customs Throughout the World

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While most Jews participate in a seder, the customs around and during the seder differed in different parts of the world. Here are some novel ways the seder was celebrated in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Many of these communities no longer exist today and some of these customs may no longer be practiced.

Passover Preparations:
Ethiopia- To symbolize a truly new beginning, in some Ethiopian families the matriarch would destroy all her earthenware dishes and make a new set for Passover and the rest of the year.

Yemen: The door to the house was kept open for the entire seder so everyone would be able to leave quickly when the Messiah came.

Morocco- Traditional Moroccan clothing, white kaftans with gold embroidery, and robes are worn during the seder. These are reminders of the clothing worn by the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Egypt- Before the seder, unmarried young women hid behind a door to eat a hard boiled egg. The egg was a symbol of fertility suggesting a marriage in the near future.

The Seder Table
Hungary- While we set the table with our finest china and linen, in Hungary they went one step further and placed all their gold and silver jewelry on the table, in remembrance of the gold and silver the Jews received from the Egyptians before they left.

The Seder Plate

 

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Yemen- There was no separate seder plate. The entire table was the seder plate. Each participant was given a serving of all the foods on the plate, except for the greens, which were spread on the table.

Tunisia- They also did not use a seder plate. Instead, the symbolic foods were placed in a reed basket which rested on the table. Before saying the beginning paragraphs about the poor bread, Ha Lachma Anya, the mother would circle the head of each participant with the basket proclaiming the haste in which the Jews left Egypt. The participants would answer that while yesterday they were slaves, today they are free, and that this year they are here, but next year they will be in Jerusalem. The basket was thought to symbolize baby Moses and the woman carrying it of his Mother Yocheved and sister Miriam.

Spain- It seems that in Spain before the opening paragraph about the poor bread, the seder leader would walk around the table and tap each participant’s head with the seder plate. In some cases, only the children’s heads were tapped.

Morocco- With much fanfare and singing, the seder plate was brought into the room. The seder leader passed it over the heads of all participants, who sang, “Once we were slaves, now we are free.” After he placed the seder plate on the table, he once again picked up the plate, this time, however, moving it over the center of the table to honor those no longer in the land of the living.

Barcelona, Morocco and Gibraltar – The custom in some families was that after reciting “In Haste We left Egypt,” three times, the seder leader walked around the table tapping each person’s head with the seder plate three times, each time a bit harder. This was meant to remind participants of slavery and hard times Jews suffered in Egypt.

Karpas- The Vegetable that is Dipped
Ashkenazim- European Jews and their descendants generally dip the vegetables into salt water, which symbolizes the tears shed by our ancestors in Egypt. Sephardim- those whose ancestors were from Spain and Portugal, usually use vinegar as the dipping liquid. Some, however, dip the vegetables into charoset.

Afikoman– Taking the Split Middle Matzah

Afikoman.pngIn many Sephardic communities, the afikoman is wrapped in a large napkin and given to a child to sling over his shoulder as if he were a Jew leaving Egypt. (In Egypt, everyone was given a chance to hold the afikoman.) Then the seder leader asked the afikoman holder two questions: wherever you from and where are you going? The person holding the afikoman would answer that he was from Egypt and was going to Jerusalem.

Iraq and Kurdistan- The child holding the afikoman would go outside and knock on the door. After he was invited inside, he was asked the two questions. After answering them, he would say the Four Questions. Another tradition involved wrapping the Afikoman in a scarf, and tying it on the backs of the children like a beggar’s bundle. The children then went outside , knocked on the door and pretended they were traveling from Egypt to Jerusalem.

Turkey and Greece- It was the seder leader who left the room and returned holding a walking stick in one hand and the wrapped matzah slung over his shoulder. He too would answer the two questions asked of him.

Yemen- The seder leader answered the two questions and then told the group all about his life as a slave in Egypt and the miracles he witnessed when he left Egypt. Another tradition practiced involved one member of the family taking the afikoman, tying it in a scarf, placing it on his shoulder and walking around the house. When the others asked him why he was doing this, he replied that that was what our ancestors did when they left Egypt.

Some German Jews, before reciting the Haggadah, also had the custom to walk around the room with the wrapped afikoman on their shoulders. In southern Germany, the seder leader would take the afikoman which was wrapped in a white matzoh cover , sling it over over his shoulder and explain that this was how the Jews left Egypt.

Hungary- The seder leader wrapped the afikoman in a scarf, placed on his shoulders and then said, “let’s go, let’s go.”

Mumbai, India- The seder leader took a wooden cane in his hand and walked around the table telling everyone about his life as a slave and the miracles he saw.

Iran and Iraq- The youngest male child took the afikoman, put it in a bag on his shoulder, and walked around the seder table. All the guests got up and followed the child, who was playing the role of Moses taking the Jews out of Egypt.

Kurdistan- Kurdish Jews had a tradition of tying the wedding contract to the arm of the bride. From this, the practice developed of tying the Afikoman to the arm of the son they wanted to marry off during the coming year. After the Afikoman was tied to the selected son, seder participants expressed their hope that just as the afikoman was bound to his hand, so may he bind the marriage contract to the arm of his bride.

The Ten Plagues
Sephardim- While Ashkenazim dip their pinkies into their glass of wine and spill out 10 drops to commerate the ten plagues, Sephardim treat the plagues like something bad. In Iraq, Jews spread an additional tablecloth over the table before reciting the plagues to protect the food and those seated around the table from the plagues.

Turkey and Balkans- Some families did not look at the spilled wine from the cup, so they would not be contaminated. In other families, only the seder leader spilled out the wine and washed his hands afterwards as a symbolic cleaning.

Cochin, India- Only the seder leader spilled out the wine from a special wine cup, located close to the seder leader, called the Pharoah’s cup. Afterwards, he also washed his hands.

Aden, Yemen- The 10 drops of wine were poured from one glass into another and then that glass was disposed of in the garden, so the plagues would be transferred to their enemies.

Iraq- Wine drops were poured into a Ziplock bag, which was removed from the house and thrown away.

Egypt- The wine drops were poured into a bowl from a large wine glass with some water added. However, this was all done under the table. No one looked at it as it was considered bad luck. Then the wine mixture was poured into the toilet.

Greece- As each plague was recited, Greek jews poured vinegar into a bowl next to them.

Libya- The spilled wine was considered a messenger of good luck. The single girls in the family would wash their feet in the “plague waters” in the basin, hoping that the “plague” of being single would end in the coming year.

Dayenu

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Persia- Holding bunches of celery, chives, leeks, or scallions, seder participants lightly beat each other on the shoulders.

Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq- Each seder participant had a turn as the Egyptian taskmaster who would beat the person next to him with a vegetable “whip.” While the whipping was going on, the other guests would wish each other a green, fruitful year and lucky year.

Italy- The whip was made of long stemmed green onions. While singing the chorus of Dayenu, everyone would pick up an onion and whip the wrist of the person next to him.
Charoset- the “Brick” concoction
Gibraltar- The Jews of Gibraltar mixed actual brick dust into the Charoset.

Main Course
Aden, Yemen- All types of eggs and egg dishes were the main course.

Morocco- Lamb and truffles were often the main dish.

Elijah’s Cup
Morocco- Instead of a cup of wine for Elijah, which most Sephardim don’t provide, the family would prepare a special chair with cushions and ornaments for him to sit on when he arrived.
Germany- When the words “Pour out your anger,” were reached in the Haggadah, someone in costume, imitating the arrival of Elijah, would enter the home to announce the coming of the Messiah.

End of Seder
Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Kurdistan, Djerba, and the Caucasus- At the end of the seder men would quickly leave the house with a stick and a bundle on their shoulders and say that this is how their ancestors left Egypt.

Afghanistan, Iran and Bukhara- Small pieces of the afikoman were kept as talismans to protect against the evil eye.

Syria, Iraq, Libya and Tunisia- Pieces of the afikoman would be taken along on trips to protect against storms at sea and dangers on the road.

Kurdistan- Jews would hide pieces of the afikoman in their rice, flour and salt to ensure they would have enough of these in the upcoming year.

North Africa and Greece- Jews would keep a piece of the Afikoman in their pockets and houses for good fortune and plenty throughout the year.

Poland- A piece of the Afikoman would be hung on the wall as a good luck omen.

Yes, we Jews practice many different seder customs. But these are all part of the glorious Jewish heritage.

Enjoy!

HAPPY PASSOVER!

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Purim Questions and Answers

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Q. What is Purim?

A. Purim is the Jewish Holiday which celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from Persian King Ahasuerus’ (Xerxes 1) plan to massacre all the Jews under his rule.

Q. How is Purim pronounced?

A. Poo-rim.

Q. Who celebrates Purim?

A. Jews around the world celebrate Purim.

Q. Where did Purim take place?

A. In the 127 provinces under King Ahasuerus’ rule, which spanned from India to Ethiopia. Most of the story took place in the Persian capital of Shushan which today is located in western Iran.

Q. Who is Haman?

A. Haman is the Persian minister who convinced the King to massacre the Jews.

Q.  What does Purim mean in Hebrew?

A. Purim means lots. Haman cast lots to determine which day would be auspicious for the massacre of the Jews. Adar 14 was the date selected.

Q. Where is the story of Purim recorded in the Bible?

A. The story of Purim is recorded in the Book of Esther, which is in the third section of the Judaic canon, named  Ketuvim, or Writings.

Q. When did the story of Purim take place?

A. The events described in the Book of Esther began around the years 483-482 BCE, and concluded in 473 BCE. Others say the dates of the story are from 369 BCE to 357 BCE.

Q. When is Purim Celebrated in 2019?

A. Purim begins after nightfall on March 20 and ends at nightfall on March 21. The Hebrew date on which Purim falls is the 14th of Adar.

Q. What is the story of Purim?

A.  Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jewish people, in the year 356 BCE from Haman’s plot to kill all the Jews on a single day, the 13th of Adar. The Persian King, Ahasuerus, a.k.a. Xerxes 1, whose empire extended from India to Ethiopia, endorsed the plot of his chief adviser, Haman, and issued a decree mandating it. Unbeknownst to him or to the King, his Queen, Esther, was Jewish. 

Esther’s uncle, Mordechai, rallied the Jews to fast and pray. Esther engineered Haman’s downfall at a private wine party to which she invited the king and the minister. The King hung Haman and issued a second decree which empowered the Jews to defend themselves against those who sought to kill them. Mordechai became the King’s chief adviser.

On the 13th of Adar — the day selected by Haman using lots, Jews successfully fought those who attempted to kill them. The following day, Adar 14, turned into a day of feasting and rejoicing . In the capital, Shushan, where the battle went on for two days, the victory celebration was held on Adar 15.  

Q. What is Shushan Purim?

A.  In the capital city of Shushan, the fighting took two days to end. Therefore the victory celebrations were held on the 15th of Adar. When the Purim Holiday was established, the sages decided that while most Jews would celebrate Purim on the 14th of Adar, those living in cities like Shushan (which is located in modern-day southwestern Iran) which were walled at the time of Joshua  would celebrate on the 15th of Adar. This day is known as Shushan Purim. The only city in Israel which scholars are certain was walled at the time of Joshua is Jerusalem. So Jerusalemites celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar, Shushan Purim.

Q. What is the Megillah?

A. Megillah means scroll in Hebrew. The Megillah is the scroll on which the Purim story is written in Hebrew.

Q. How is Purim celebrated? 

A. Jews go to hear the Megillah read on the evening of Purim and on Purim day. It is customary to give charity to the poor and to give gifts of food to family and friends. People, especially youngsters, dress in costumes and deliver these food packages. Then late afternoon, Jews gather with family and/or friends to eat a festive meal with wine and other beverages.

Q. What are Purim cookies called? 

A. Hamentashen- pronounced Huh-Min-Tah-Shun. which in Yiddish and German means Haman’s pockets. In Israel, they are called Ozney Haman. (See the picture above.)

Q. How are they associated with Purim?

A. Towards the end of the 18th century, a new cookie became popular in Europe: pockets of dough filled with poppy seeds, called MohnTaschen, German for “poppy pockets.” At the beginning of the 19th century Jews began using them as Purim treats, probably because Mohn sounds like Haman.  This pun was so popular that by the beginning of the 19th century, the cookies were called hamantaschen. The cookie is triangular and is filled with almost anything; the most common fillings are fruit, jam, poppy seeds and chocolate.

As the cookies became more popular, various explanations were given for their association with Purim. One is that  we eat hamentasch (the singular form) because “Haman tash” – Hebrew for “Haman was weakened,” which should remind us that Haman was beaten only because the Lord weakened him. Another explanation is that the shape of the cookie reminds us of the three corned hat worn by Haman. Others say the fillings may represent Esther’s meals while in the palace, or the sweetener- money- which Haman used to bribe the King to accede to his request for the massacre of the Jews. Others say that Hamentaschen, Haman’s pockets in Yiddish, may refer to the money he offered the King, from his “pocket,” for his acquiescence to the murder of the Jews. The three corners may also refer to the three Patriarchs- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- in whose merit the Jews were saved or whose “power” weakened Haman and strengthened Esther in her quest to save the Jews.

In Palestine, the British name for the Land of Israel till 1948, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who created Modern Hebrew, decided to call the cookies “ozen haman”, the ears of Haman in Hebrew. However, the original Ozney Haman, which were made in Europe, were ear-shaped fried cookies dipped in honey.  These may have reminded people of the custom of cutting off a criminal’s ears before his execution. These cookies, however, fell out of favor during the 19th century and are no longer made.

Today, in Israel, Hamentashen are referred to as Ozney Haman, and may be filled with just about anything from dates to chocolate to spinach,

Q. Can Purim fall on a Friday or Saturday?

A. The Jewish calendar is so made that Purim can fall on a Friday, but not on a Saturday.

Q. Can Jews go to work on Purim?

A. Yes. But nowadays most religious Jews don’t work on Purim. The sages said that people who work on Purim won’t see a blessing from their profits from that day. Purim is a joyous holiday and people should enjoy the day with family and friends.

Q. What is a Gragger?

A. On Purim, it is traditional to drown out the name ,”Haman'” when it is read from the Megillah on Purim.  A gragger is a wooden or metal noisemaker used to block out the word ‘”Haman.”  Graggers often consist of a handle fixed to a cogged wheel. When the Gragger is spun, the cogs on the wheel tap a thin piece of wood or metal fixed to the handle, creating a loud sound. However, anything can be used to drown out the name, including stamping the feet, whistles, car horns, etc.

Q. What is the proper Purim greeting?

A.  The appropriate English greeting is Happy Purim. In Yiddish, one would say,” A Freilichen Purim.” In Hebrew, one says Chag Sameach.

Q. Why is the observance of Purim especially important today?

A. Purim is all about an anti-Semite who wished to kill all the Jews. This theme is, unfortunately, resonating loudly with Jews today. Almost 75 years since the end of World War II and the worst massacre of Jews ever committed, Anti-Semitism is a metastizing cancer in virtually every country in the world, except Israel. Since Israel, the homeland of the Jews, is not only alive and well, but is becoming a world power, it has become fashionable to mask anti-semitism under the guise of objections to Israel. However, when the aim is not to challenge Israel’s policies, but the very existence of the State, then that is anti-semitism.

How can anti-Semitism be recognized? The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance includes the following: The targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

According to the The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Why is it important to know these signs? Because waiting until it was too late -as was done in the case of the Holocaust- and ignoring the warning signs can lead to catastrophe. Therefore, it is of extreme importance to know the signs of anti-Semitism and to draw attention to and call out those manifesting these signs. Anti-Semitic acts and words cannot be ignored, Excuses cannot be made for words uttered or actions performed. Let’s face it. When people are not happy and seek to blame others for their problems, whom do they blame- the Jews.

So let’s take a lesson from Queen Esther. While there’s still a chance to change matters, ACT.

And finally, remember Israel is there for all Jews, regardless of their religious observance and belief, or lack thereof. It is the homeland of the Jews and the only place in the world where Jews are always and truly welcome.

HAPPY PURIM!

Categories: Anti Semitism, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Judaism, Purim, religion | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rosh Hashanah Card Story

Colorful Hebrew English Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah card

Summer is almost over. As usual, it goes by too quickly. When the summer ends, it’s back to school time. But it’s also time to think of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is early this year. It begins after sunset on September 9, about two and half weeks away.

Speaking of Rosh Hashanah, do you know when the first Jewish New Year cards were sent? Do you think that maybe Jews just copied the Christian tradition of sending Holiday cards? Read on to find out.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the first Jewish New Year cards were actually sent in the Middle Ages, while Christian New Year cards only began to be sent in the 19th century. The practice of sending cards for the Jewish New Year is first mentioned in the Book of Customs of Rabbi Jacob, published in 1556 in Germany.  Since Jews believe that on Rosh Hashanah one’s fate is set down in one the three open Heavenly books, German rabbis recommended that letters sent in the month before Rosh Hashanah should begin with the blessing that the recipient be inscribed and sealed for a good New Year.

When postcards were invented in Vienna in 1869, they quickly became the favored method of sending Jewish Holiday greetings. The peak period for illustrated postcards was from 1898-1918 and they were produced mainly in Germany, Warsaw and New York City. German cards were often illustrated with Biblical themes, while those from Warsaw depicted the religious life of Eastern European Jewry. Although the scenes on these cards were often theatrically staged, they preserved views and customs which were lost during the Holocaust.

The mass immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe to the United States in the early 20th century led to an increase in the production of these cards. Often, these Jewish New Year postcards depicted America as the new homeland, while others featured Zionist ideology and contemporary views of Israel.

In Israel, during the 19th century, Jews sent Rosh Hashanah greetings using tablets of varying sizes, featuring images of its four”Holy “ cities, as well as holy sites in and around Jerusalem. The binding of Isaac was a popular motif and it was often drawn against the backdrop of the Temple Mount. These tablets were often sent abroad for fundraising purposes.

In the 1920s and 30s, Jewish New Year cards printed in Israel depicted work on the land and “secular” views of the new pioneers. Over the years, many new designs and motifs were created. Towards the end of the 20th century, the sending of physical cards in Israel declined and was superseded by phone calls and internet messages.

In the United States, the advent of email and ecards also caused the practice of snail mailing Jewish New Year cards to family and friends to decline. However, many people still love to get actual cards. For those people, JewTee has a large selection of different types of Jewish New Year cards.

We hope you’re one of those people who both likes to send and receive paper versions of Rosh Hashanah cards you can read and display.

JewTee.com has many different types of Rosh Hashanah cards. Here are a few of our favorite funny ones:

Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year Note CardsShofar Funny Jewish New Year CardJewish Wake Up Call Funny Jewish New Year CardFunny Jewish New Year card Apples and Honey

Here are some Hebrew English Rosh Hashanah cards:

Hebrew English Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year cardColorful Hebrew English Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah card

Old Fashioned Hebrew English Rosh Hashanah cardHebrew English Jewish New Year Card

JewTee has many more cards. To see the entire collection of Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah cards, click here.

Categories: Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Jewish New Year Cards, Judaism, religion, Rosh Hashanah Cards, Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do We Celebrate Father’s Day?

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Since the Middle Ages, Father’s Day has been celebrated by Catholics in Europe on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day. Today it is celebrated in Europe and the Americas in March, April or June. However, the origin of Father’s Day in the United States  has no relationship to the Catholic celebration and is totally secular in origin.

The first Father’s Day in the United States was celebrated in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. Grace Golden Clayton dearly missed her father who had died in 1896. In addition, she wished to honor the memories of the 361 men who had died on December 6 of the previous year in the worst mining disaster in history. Occurring in Monongah, West Virginia, just a few miles south of Fairmont, this disaster resulted in the deaths of 250 fathers, leaving a thousand kids fatherless. Clayton suggested to the pastor of her church that he honor those men by dedicating a Sunday sermon to their memory and he did so.

The following year, Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman from Spokane, Washington sat in church listening to a Mother’s Day sermon. Dodd’s mother had died in childbirth and her father had singlehandedly raised her and her five siblings. Dodd decided she wanted to establish a day, June 5, her father’s birthday, to honor her Dad and others like him. She went to churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea. As a result of her efforts, on June 19, 1910, a Father’s Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Spokane, Although she had originally suggested that the event be celebrated on June 5, the pastors did not have sufficient time to prepare their sermons, so the event was deferred to the third Sunday in June. Several local clergymen accepted the idea and sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.

Young women handed out red roses to their fathers at the church service and large baskets of red roses were passed around with those in attendance asked to pin a rose on their clothing- red for the living fathers and white in memory of those no longer alive. Dodd then traveled through the city on a horse drawn carriage bringing roses and gifts to home -bound fathers. This Father’s Day celebration became an annual event in Spokane. Other towns also adopted the Holiday.

A bill to make Father’s Day a national holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913, but it was not passed. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson traveled to Spokane to speak at a Father’s Day celebration. While he wished to make it an officially recognized holiday, Congress resisted, fearing it would become commercialized. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that the entire country observe the holiday in order to foster closer relationships between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers their obligations to their children. But he stopped short of issuing an official  proclamation.

Many men were not in favor of the holiday. They did not like the attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gifts and they resented the commercial use of the day to sell more products, which were often paid for by the father himself.

During the 1920s and 30s, there was even a movement to scrap both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in favor of a single holiday, Parents Day. Every year the Pro Parents’ Day groups would rally in New York City’s Central Park as a public reminder that both parents should be honored together.

However, the Great Depression derailed this effort, as struggling retailers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day another Christmas buying spree for men.

Dodd stopped promoting the celebration for a number of years because she was busy with her studies in Chicago. In the 1930s, Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration of Father’s Day again. She was helped in this endeavor by trade groups, who manufactured items of interest to men such as ties and tobacco pipes. By 1938,  a trade organization, the National Council for the Promotion of Father’s Day, took up the cause. However, Americans still resisted the holiday, as they viewed it as nothing more than an attempt by merchants to cash in on the success of Mother’s Day.

During World War II, advertisers argued that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day had already become a national institution.

In 1957, Maine Senator, Margaret Chase Smith wrote a Father’s Day proposal, accusing Congress of ignoring fathers. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers and designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. However, it was not until six years later, in 1972, that President Richard Nixon made it into a permanent national holiday.

Although Dodd used the “Fathers’ Day” spelling when she petitioned for the Holiday, the spelling  “Father’s Day’ was used in the 1913 attempt to have Congress  establish an official day and that is the spelling used today.

This year Father’s Day is on June 17. Here are a few of JewTee’s favorite gifts for Dad.

Super Abba Ceramic Father's Day Mug

Only the best for the best.

 

Zeyde Rocks Funny Jewish Father's Day T Shirt for Grandpa

Zeyde (Yiddish for Grandpa) is the Best.

 

Abba Knows Best funny Father's Day Jewish Baseball Cap

And everyone knows it.

 

Shalom Y'All Heavy Cotton Twill BBQ Apron

Welcome Everyone.

 

To see JewTee’s entire collection of Father’s Day gifts, click here.

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The Anti Israel Hate Fest Continues

The Gaza riots on May 14, 2018, brought new opportunities for the media, the EU and many others to bash Israel again, The headlines screamed about the deaths of “innocent” Palestinians protesting “peacefully” on Israel’s border. The fact that over 85% of those killed on that day were known members of terrorist organizations and that 40,000 “peaceful” protestors attempted to storm the border fence using Molotov cocktails, IEDs, flaming tires, firearms, and flaming kites, was missed by many.  But imagine what the U.S. would have done had over 1.5 million (number adjusted relative to population of US versus Israel) ISIS members tried to storm the US borders. For that matter, any and every country would be expected to defend its borders from those whose aim was to storm the border, kidnap citizens and kill as many Israeli citizens as they could. And yes, those were Hamas’ stated aims. So describing the protestors as peaceful was not truthful at best.

But the media do not care about the truth, nor do they care about Palestinians. When, in April, Syrian forces shelled the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus in their attempt to root out ISIS, dozens of Palestinian refugees and local Syrian civilians were killed. However, there were no howls of pain from the media, or the UN and its councils and commissions about this. It seems that the only time the world cares about the deaths of Palestinians is when they happen at the hands of Israelis.

So, of course, the United Nations was up in arms about the deaths in Gaza. On May 14, the Security Council attempted to pass a resolution mandating an independent probe of the deaths on the Gaza border. “The Security Council expresses its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest,” read a draft of the statement “The Security Council calls for an independent and transparent investigation into these actions to ensure accountability,” read the text. The United States vetoed the resolution.

Not to be deterred, on May 21st, the United Nations Human Rights Council, which includes such stalwart defenders of human rights as China, Iraq, Venezuela and Qatar, voted to send an “independent” international commission of inquiry to investigate the violence at the Gaza border.

Holding Israel to a different standard than any other country in the world is just a convenient way to blame it for even the smallest perceived misdeed. Let’s face reality. Being anti Israel is the politically correct way of being antisemitic. It’s not PC to say you hate Jews, but to say you hate Israel is totally acceptable, especially if you even mask that somewhat by saying you are pro Palestinian and an advocate for Palestinian rights.

Unfortunately, antisemitism seems to be an incurable disease. It sometimes seems to go into remission, but always reemerges sooner or later. Perhaps, as suggested by Melanie Phillips (Observations, Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2018), constant repetition of the fact that the West Bank is Jewish land occupied by Arabs, that Arabs are the true colonizers, that Jews are the only extant indigenous people of the land and that the Balfour Declaration, which was approved by the international community, gave the Jews the right to settle the entire land from the river to the sea. These measures will not cure antisemitism, but they may make the Palestinian narrative seem a bit more unlikely and make it a little harder to hide behind the pro Palestinian mask. Further, Israel should remind the world that it is the Palestinians who favor “ethnic cleansing” as they have repeatedly stated that when they get their country it will be Judenrein, free of Jews.

To proclaim Israel’s right to exist and Jerusalem as its capital city, JewTee has created a number of Pro Israel designs which appear on shirts, pajamas, mugs, tote bags, aprons  buttons, and gift items. Here are some of the most popular:

America Israel Friendship button

America Israel Friendship Button

 

Jerusalem Israel's Capital American Apparel Fitted T Shirt

Jerusalem has never been the Capitol of any other entity besides Israel.

Hamas Exists To Kill, Israel Kills To Exist, Baseball Cap

Hamas kills because it wants to. Israel kills because it has to.

 

Israel Is Forever Women's T Shirt

Israel Is Here To Stay.

I Stand With Israel Large Ceramic Mug

Drink to show your support for Israel.

To see our entire collection of Pro Israel Shirts and gifts, click here.

Categories: Anti Semitism, Gaza, Gaza War, Hamas, Israel, Israel T Shirts and Gifts, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Terrorism, UNHRC, United Nations | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Mourns and Celebrates

Shalom Y’all:

These past few weeks were momentous ones for the State of Israel. On April 12, Israel celebrated Yom HaShoah, which commemorates the death of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem Israel Hall Of Names

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Hall of Names

 

On April 18, Yom Hazikaron, Israel Memorial Day, Israelis remembered Israeli soldiers missing in action, those who lost their lives fighting for freedom for the State of Israel, and terrorist victims, felled by forces who wish to see the end of the Jewish State.

Garden of The Missing In Action, Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel

President Rivlin pays his respects at the Garden of The Missing In Action, Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel

 

This was immediately followed, on April 19, by the joyous celebrations of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 70th Independence Day. 

Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, Flag Dance

Flag Dance performed by Bet Shemesh students in honor of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day

Israel Independence Day Flags

Israel flags and sign commemorating Israel Independence Day.

 

Lag B’omer with its festive bonfires was on May 3.   

Lag B'Omer Bonfire, Jerusalem, Israel

Lag B’Omer Bonfire

 

On May 12, Israel won the Eurovision Song contest. See the winning song, Toy,  by Netta Barzilai below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CziHrYYSyPc

 

On May 13 Israelis rejoiced on Yom Yerushalayim, which celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem and the ability of Jews to visit the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. 

Hassid praying at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

Hassid praying at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

 

On May 14, the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, followed two days later by Guatemala and on May 21 by Paraguay. Unfortunately, on the day of the United States Embassy move, 50,000 Palestinians engaged in very violent riots, including attempts to breach the security wall separating Gaza from Israel, throwing Molotov cocktails, sending flaming kites towards Israel, etc. These acts, which endangered the lives of Israeli citizens, resulted in the unfortunate death of 62 Palestinians, at least 53 of whom were members of terrorist organizations. Let’s hope Hamas will end the violence so peace can be restored.

US Embassy, Jerusalem, Israel

US Embassy, Jerusalem, Israel

 

After nightfall on May 19 and on May 20, Israel celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot, Pentecost, on which Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It’s customary to learn Torah throughout the night. In Jerusalem, tens of thousands finish their nightime of study by walking to the Kotel, Western Wall, before dawn, to pray the morning prayer at sunrise. This practice began in 1967, when the army regained control of the Kotel a week before Shavuot and opened it to Jewish visitors on Shavuot. That year over 200,00 Jews came to pray at the site that had been off limits to them since 1948. Since then thousands of Jews continue to walk to the Kotel every Shavuot.

Crowds praying at dawn at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.

Crowds praying at dawn at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.

 

Now its back to the regular routine: for elementary, junior high and high school students until the end of school year in June; college students finish in June unless they they take classes in the summer semester, which ends in August; and for many employees until August, when most Israelis take their vacations.

The three week period of mourning for the Temple begins on July 1 and Tisha B’Av, the fast day for the two Temples, begins the night of  July 21.

The Jewish High Holidays are early this year. The first night of Rosh Hashanah is on September 9.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Holocaust, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel, Israel Independence Day, Israel Memorial Day Yom Hazikaron, Jerusalem, Jerusalem Day, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Shavout, Video, Western Wall Kotel, Yom Haatzmaut, Yom Hazikaron, Yom Yerushalayim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Shavuot?

Spring Flowers mini This year, 2018, Shavuot falls on May 20 and May 21. How much do you know about Shavuot? Want to know more? Here are 10 questions and answers to help augment your Shavout knowledge.

Q. What does Shavuot mean?

A. Shavuot means weeks. It marks the end of the seven week countdown between Passover and Shavuot. Shavout commemorates the day G-d gave the 10 commandments and the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. Shavuot also means Oaths. The Jewish people swore allegiance to G-d and he pledged his devotion to the Jewish people.

Q. Does Shavuot have any other names?

A. Yes. The Torah has three different names for Shavuot: Chag Shavuot, the Festival of Shavuot; Yom HaBikkurim- the Day of the First Fruits and Chag Hakatzir- the Festival of the Harvest. In the written record of the Oral Law it is called Atzeret- Restrain and in the prayers recited during Shavuot it is called Zeman Matan Torahteinu- the time of the giving of the Torah.

Q. What do these names refer to?

A. Shavuot is the only holiday described in the Torah which does not have a specific Jewish month and day ascribed to it. The Torah says only that Shavuot should be celebrated 50 days after the second day of Passover. This is because Passover and Shavuot are connected-  the purpose of the exodus from Egypt was to create a free Jewish people who would serve G-d and the way to do was by following the Torah which was given on Mount Sinai.                

Yom HaBikkurim- the Day of the First Fruits. In the days of  the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish farmer would tie a thread around the first fruits to start budding. The farmer would then bring these fruits in a basket to the Temple in Jerusalem starting from Shavuot and ending Chanukah.

Chag HaKatzir- the Harvest Festival, refers to the wheat harvest season which occurs around the time of Shavuot.

Atzeret- Restrain (from work)-  This name reminds us not to do work on Shavuot.

Zman Matan Torahteinu- the time of giving of the Torah- Shavuot commemorates the receipt of the Torah from G-d at Mount Sinai.

Q. Isn’t Shavuot also called Pentecost?

A. Yes,. Pentecost is the Greek name for Shavuot and means the 50th day. However, Pentecost also refers to the Christian Holiday of Pentecost which occurs 50 days after Easter and celebrates an occurrence in the life of Jesus.

Q. What are the Shavuot rituals?

A. Women and girls light candles to usher in the Holiday. On the first night of Shavuot it is customary to stay up all night learning Torah. On the first day of Shavuot, everyone goes to the synagogue to hear the Book of Ruth read from a scroll and the Ten Commandments read from the Torah. On the second day of Shavuot, Yitzkor- the prayer for the departed, is recited. Work is not permitted during the Holiday.

Q. What is the Book of Ruth?

A.  One of the books of the Bible which is named after the central figure, Ruth. It  tells the story of a Moabite woman, Ruth, who converts to Judaism and becomes part of the Jewish people.

Q. Why is the Book of Ruth read on Shavuot?

A. Ruth is the story of a person accepting the Torah and becoming part of the Jewish people. This is what all Jews did on Mount Sinai. Reading the story reminds us to rededicate ourselves to the Torah and the Jewish people.                                                  

Shavuot takes place during the harvest season and the story of Ruth takes place during the harvest season.                                              

Ruth was the ancestor of King David whose birth and death were on Shavuot.

Q.  Do we eat any special foods on Shavuot?

A. The Jewish tradition is to eat dairy foods on Shavuot, such as cheese blintzes, cheesecake, quiches, casseroles, etc.

Q. Why do we eat dairy food on Shavuot?

A. When the Jews received the Torah on Mount Sinai, they were not permitted to eat meat and dairy food together. So many people eat a separate dairy meal and a separate meat meal to commerate this. 

When the Jews received the Torah, they were only allowed to  eat meat which was slaughtered according to Jewish law. Since it was the Sabbath and since no such meat was available, they ate a dairy meal instead.

The numerical value of the Hebrew word for milk, chalav, is 40. This corresponds to the 40 days Moses spent on Mount Sinai before receiving the Torah.

The Torah is compared to milk.

Q. Are there any other traditions on Shavuot?

A. It is customary to decorate the synagogue and the house with greenery and flowers in honor of Shavuot. The most common reason given for the custom is that sheep and cattle were not allowed to graze facing Mount Sinai when theTorah was given. However, since the Torah was given in a desert, a miracle must have occurred, temporarily turning the desert area into one filled with greenery.

Other explanations include: the fact that Moses was placed in a reed basket in the Nile on the second day of Shavuot; a way of remembering  that the custom  was to decorate the baskets of the first fruits brought to the Temple on Shavuot with flowers and greenery. 

                                                       HAPPY SHAVUOT!

Categories: Jewish Holidays, religion, Shavout | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Passover Questions and Answers

seder Table 1

Passover is almost here. The first seder is on the night of March 30, 2018. To help you understand Passover ,or Pesach as it’s known in Hebrew, better we have compiled a list of general questions and answers. Hope they answer some of the questions you had about Passover.

Q. What is the story of Passover?

A. Passover, known in Hebrew as Pesach, commemorates the emancipation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and their Exodus from Egypt, led by Moses, in 1313 BCE. It also celebrates their miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea from the Egyptian army who pursued them.

Q. Why is Passover so important?

  1. Passover is very important to the Jews since it marks the emancipation of the Jews and the beginning of their nationhood.

Q. Where is the story of Passover mentioned in the Bible, or Torah?

A.  Exodus- 1-15.

Q. What are the dates of Passover in  2018?

A. Passover begins at sundown March 30 and ends nightfall April 7.

Q. How are the dates of Passover determined?

  1. The dates of Passover, similar to all other Jewish Holidays, are determined by the Jewish calendar which is a lunar calendar. Passover always begins on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. Due to the discrepancies between the lunar and solar calendars, Passover falls on different days of the Gregorian solar calendar each year.

Q. Can Passover fall on the Sabbath?

A. Yes.  And this year, 2018, Passover begins on Friday night, March 30, which is also the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

Q. Where is Passover celebrated?

A. It is celebrated by Jews throughout the world in their homes and synagogues.

Q. Where did Passover get its name?

  1. During the last of the ten plagues,- the slaying of the first born-the Lord “passed over” the homes of the Jews which they had marked with pascal blood on their doorposts and its lintels.

Q. When is the Seder Held?

  1. The seder is held on the first two nights of Passover, this year March 30 and March 31 (In Israel, only one seder is held; this year on March 30.)

Q. How many days is Passover celebrated?

  1. Passover is celebrated for eight days (seven in Israel.)

Q. Why is Passover celebrated for seven days in Israel and eight days everywhere else?

A. The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. In Temple times, it was set monthly based on sightings of each new moon.  The presence of the new moon was communicated to the many Jews living further away -e.g. Persia, by means of a system of smoke signals. It would take time for all Jews to be notified of the sightings, sometimes even a day later. To ensure all Holidays would be observed at the proper time, one day was added to each festival just in case. However, in Israel, Jews knew when the new moon was sighted, so they did not observe the additional day. By the Fifth century,  a permanent calendar was developed which was independent of new moon sightings. This is the calendar used today. But the tradition of the additional day for those living outside of Israel is maintained.

Q. Which days of Passover are most important?

A. The first two days and the last two days (first day and last day in Israel

), since on these days Jews must desist from work.

Q. How has the celebration of Passover changed over the years?

  1. In the afternoon before the Jews left Egypt, they sacrificed a lamb, roasted it and ate it in the evening together with matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs. The first year after the exodus, when the Jews were wandering in the desert, Passover was also celebrated this way. However, the next time Passover was celebrated this way was after the Jews had conquered Israel and taken possession of the land. The eating of the sacrificial lamb continued annually while the two Temples stood. Afterwards, the rabbis established the Passover seder which is now held on the first two nights of Passover. Only the Samaritans still practice the ritual of the sacrificial lamb today.

Q. How is Passover observed today?

  1. Jews observe Passover today by eating Matzah during Passover, avoiding leaven and holding seders commemorating the emancipation from Egypt, which include the drinking of four cups of wine, eating Matzah and bitter herbs and retelling the story of the Exodus.

Q. Why do Jews eat Matzah during Passover?

A. The Bible, Torah, commands Jews to eat Matzah during Passover to commerate the Matzah which they ate while fleeing Egypt. They had planned to eat bread, but they left in such a hurry that the dough did not have time to rise. Matzah was also the food given to them as slaves and the food eaten on the night before the Exodus.

Q. Why don’t Jews eat leaven, flour with yeast, during Passover?

Passover gifts? The Torah, Bible, says in Exodus 12:14-17 that to commemorate the Exodus, Jews should observe the festival of Passover by removing leaven from their homes before the festival and eating only unleavened bread during the festival.

Looking for Passover gifts? Check out JewTee’s Passover:bibs, onesies  t shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys, kids tees, bibs, onesies, hats, mugs, aprons, seder pillows, tote bags cards, and even dog shirts here.

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Hanukkah Facts and Blessings

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Shalom Y’all:

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

This year JewTee has decided to feature articles about the fast approaching Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, or  Chanukah, a holiday of joy and thanksgiving. We all know that on Hanukkah you light candles, play the dreidel and eat latkes, but why do we do these things? Read on to find out the answers to these and many other Hanukkah questions.

When is Hanukkah 2017?

Hanukkah 2017 begins the evening of December 12th and lasts until nightfall December 20, 2017. 

What does Hanukkah mean?

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is the Hebrew word for dedication or inauguration. The word Chanukah in Hebrew can also be divided into two Hebrew words: Chanu- meaning they rested, and Kah-here.  In addition, the numerical value of the Hebrew letters which spell Chanukah is 25. On the 25th day of Kislev, the Hebrew date of Chanukah, the Maccabees rested from fighting and rededicated the Temple.

What is the History of Hanukkah?

The history of Hanukkah starts with Alexander the Great. When he conquered Syria, Egypt and Israel, he  allowed the countries he conquered to practice their own religion and gave them a bit of autonomy. Some Jews liked the Hellenistic pagan culture and began to adopt Greek language, names, customs and dress.

More than 100 years later, a descendent of Alexander, the Seleucid Greek King Antiochus IV ruled the area. In 168 BCE, thinking the Jews had revolted, as they had forced his Hellenistic High priest designee to flee, he entered Jerusalem, massacring thousands of Jews and enslaving thousands more. Siding with the Hellenists against the Traditionalists, he forbade the practice of Judaism, including the Sabbath, circumcision and dietary laws, under the penalty of death. Torah scrolls were confiscated and burned. He restored his Hellenistic High Priest and further defiled the Temple by placing a statue of Jupiter above the altar and requiring that pigs be sacrificed there to the pagan god.  The King then ordered representatives to go from town to town to force the people to worship the pagan gods. Those who refused were put to death. 

When they reached the town of Modiin, where Mattityahu, the old priest lived, an altar was built in the center of the village and a Greek officer demanded that Mattityahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. When he refused, a Hellenistic Jew attempted to offer such a sacrifice. Mattityahu  killed him. His five sons and their friends then killed the  Greek overseer and destroyed the altar. This band of Jews fled to the hills and formed a guerilla army. So began the war against the Hellenistic Jews and the Greeks. 

Before his death, Mattityahu designated his oldest son Judah, nicknamed Maccabee, Hammer, to lead the battle against the Greeks and the Hellenistic Jews. Judah’s followers were called the Maccabees, which is also an acronym for the Hebrew phrase- Who Is Like You Among the Powers,  Oh Lord.

The Greeks fought the Maccabees and their followers. After three years, in 165 BCE, the Maccabees managed to reconquer Jerusalem. The Temple had been used as a pagan sanctuary in which pigs were sacrificed on its altar. The Maccabees cleaned the temple, built a new altar and menorah, as the real one had been melted down by the Greeks. The Maccabees then rededicated the Temple on the 25th of Kislev, which is the Hebrew date on which we begin the celebration of Chanukah.

When they attempted to light the Menorah with pure olive oil from jars with the High Priest’s seal, they found only one vial, containing enough oil to last but one day. This was problematic, as the Menorah was supposed to be lit daily. Miraculously, it lasted for eight days, which was enough time for a new supply of oil to be produced.  To commemorate this miracle, the sages established an eight day holiday of thanksgiving and candle lighting.

Hanukkah really celebrates two miracles- the military victory of the vastly outnumbered Jewish army over the Seleucid Greeks and the spiritual victory of Jewish values over Hellenism, symbolized by the rededication of the Temple. The candles that we light memorialize the spiritual victory.

Hanukkah Traditions and Foods

The most important Jewish tradition relating to Hanukkah is the lighting of the Hanukkah candles. Here are some questions and answers concerning the lighting of the Hanukkah candles.

How many Hanukkah Menorahs Should I Set Up for My Family?

In the Sephardic (Jews originally from the Iberian peninsula) tradition, only one Menorah per household is lit. In Ashkenazic tradition, each member of the household  lights his or her own menorah.

Which Hanukkah Candles Should I Use?

Many people like to use olive oil, since the miracle of Hanukkah involved olive oil. These days many Jewish bookstores, including those online, sell pre-measured olive oil in disposable glass cups which fit into the cupholders of many standard menorahs. But wax candles are fine also as long as they last at least 30 minutes after nightfall.

Where Should I Place My Menorah?

The idea is to publicize the miracle of the lights. So, if possible, place it outside the house on the left side of the front door, where passerby will see it. If you live on an upper floor, or placing it outside is not feasible, put it next to the window facing the street. If this is also not feasible, then place it inside the house on a table.

When Should I Light the Candles?

It’s best to light the candles at nightfall. However, as long as people are still awake, it can be lit even late at night.

However, on Friday night the Hanukkah candles should be lit before the Sabbath lights, at least 18 minutes before sundown. Since the Hanukkah candles still need to burn for at least 30 minutes after nightfall, many people use Sabbath candles, as these last longer than the usual colored Hanukkah candles.

Is there a particular way to light the Hanukkah candles?

On the first night, place the candle at the far right, as you face the menorah. The helper candle, the Shamash, which is used to light the candle, is not counted as a candle. It should have a designated place on your menorah.

First light the Shamash, then recite the blessings, and then light the Hanukkah candle using the Shamash.

On the second night, begin by placing one candle on the right, followed by another on the right. Light the candle to the left, first. The principle is as follows -place candles in the Chanukah menorah from right to left; light the Hanukkah candles in order from left to right. This means that the candle added that night will always be lit first.

The first two blessings are said with the Shamash already lit, but immediately prior to lighting the Chanukah candles.

Blessing #1 

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Asher kid-shanu bi-mitzvo-sav, Vi-tzee-vanu li-had-leek ner shel Chanukah.

Blessed are You, the Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah candle.

Blessing #2 

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Shi-asa nee-seem la-avo-seinu, Baya-meem ha-haim baz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, the Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.

Blessing #3

This blessing is said on the first night only. 

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Sheh-he-che-yanu vi-kee-yimanu Vi-hee-gee-yanu laz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season. Afterwards, we say the following:

Ha-nerot ha-lalu anach-nu mad-likin Al ha-nissim vi-al hanif-laot Al ha-tshu-ot vi-al ha-milchamot She-asita la’avo-teinu Ba-yamim ha-heim, ba-zman ha-zeh Al ye-dey kohan-echa haki-doshim.

Vi-chol shmonat ye-mey Chanukah Ha-nerot ha-lalu kodesh heim, Ve-ein lanu reshut li-heesh-tamesh ba-hem Ela leer-otam bilvad Kedai le-hodot u-li-hallel li-shimcha Al ni-secha vi-al niflo-techa vi-al yeshua-techa.

 We kindle these lights for the miracles and the wonders, and for the salvation and for the battles which You performed for our forefathers, in those days , at this season, through your holy priests. These lights are sacred for all eight days of Chanukah and we do not have permission to make personal use of them, but only to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to your great Name for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvation.

To watch the Chanukah candles being lit and to hear the blessings, click here:

There’s still time to buy Hanukkah shirts, mugs, aprons and other gifts from JewTee.com. To see our entire collection of Jewish and Hanukkah apparel and gifts, click here:

Our next post, will highlight Hanukkah foods and another Chanukah traditions. 

 

 

Categories: Chanukah, Chanukah Hanukkah T Shirts and Gifts, Hanukkah, hanukkah blessings, Hanukkah Facts, Hanukkah Traditions, Jewish Blog, Jewish Holidays, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Reasons Why Tisha B’Av Is Relevant Today

Temple Burning Tisha B’av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, is a fast day commemorating  the destruction of both the First and Second Temples located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of Jews from their country. This year it begins at sundown July 31 and ends at nightfall on August 1st. 

A number of other calamities also befell the Jewish people on that day including: the crushing of Bar Kochba’s revolt against Roman rule and the death of 580,00 Jews in Israel as a result of it; the official start of the First Crusade which killed 10,000 Jews in France and Germany during the first month alone; the expulsion of the Jews from England, France and Spain; the beginning of the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto; and Himmler’s receipt of approval from the Nazi party for the “Final Solution,” which resulted in the death of six million Jews.

While  these seasons are more than sufficient to warrant a day of fasting, many Jews  wonder if the fast is still relevant today since the main reasons for the fast – the destruction of the two Temples and the city of Jerusalem and the expulsion of its citizens- is not as relevant today.  Jerusalem has been rebuilt and united and Jews have returned to Jerusalem and to Israel. However, as we will see, Tisha B’Av is extremely relevant to us today.

  1. The Temple- Although the Temple has not been rebuilt, Israel is in possession of the site on which the first two Temples were erected- the Temple Mount. However, as evidenced by recent events, the Temple Mount is far from being”in our hands.” The unfortunate decision to leave the Waqf, an Islamic trust controlled by Jordan, in administrative charge of the Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, has resulted in the belief by Palestinians and most other Muslims that the Temple Mount belongs to them. Furthermore, despite historical and archeological evidence to the contrary, Muslims have proclaimed that Jews have no connection to the site and to East Jerusalem. This July, the World Heritage committee of UNESCO passed a resolution disavowing Israeli sovereignty of the Old City Of Jerusalem, which includes the Western wall and the Temple Mount. How Christian countries which believe in the Bible and New Testament can agree to such nullification of their own history is beyond belief. The decision by Israel to remove all security devices from the gates leading to the Mount has reinforced the Arab belief in their sovereignty over the site. Clearly, the Temple Mount is not “in our hands.”
  2. Anti Semitism- Anti Zionism is the new Anti Semitism. Anti Semitism is alive and well and is ever increasing its hold on the populations of the world. In Arab countries, it’s in their mother milk. Although some Arab leaders may secretly want to cooperate with Israel, the incitement and hatred promulgated through the years has created an Arab population whose pores ooze anti semitism. The European populace, bolstered by the large influx of muslim refugees, is not Jew friendly. America is seeing a rise in anti semitism that is likely to continue.
  3. The Diaspora- Only half the World’s Jews live in Israel. That means that the other half live in the Diaspora. While life in the Diaspora can be good, Israel is intended to be the homeland of the Jews. For two thousand years Jews prayed for their return to Jerusalem. Now that this is possible, Jews should put their money where their mouth is and come to live in Israel.
  4. Lack of Respect- The Rabbis say that one of the main reasons the second Temple was destroyed was because of the lack of respect Jews paid to each other. Today, this lack of respect has become endemic. Different Jewish sectors totally disparage each other- religious and secular, Haredim and other Jews, Orthodox and Conservative and Reform, and factions within these groups. If we don’t respect each other, how can we expect others to respect us? Only when there is a national crisis, do most groups pull together and briefly behave as one people.

So what can we do to try to better the situation and turn Tisha B’Av from a day of fasting into a day of rejoicing? To begin with, we need to vociferously denounce all attempts at denying the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. We must make it clear to everyone that Israel is the Jewish state both historically and legally and all attempts to deny this are false. In addition, Jews must visit Jerusalem and the Western Wall in large numbers to make it clear to all that Jerusalem and Israel belongs to the Jews.

The solution to Diaspora Jewry is clear. They should come to Israel now, of their own volition, before they are forced to leave. Those who are afraid of religious coercion need not worry. Israel is a democracy and all forms of Jewish worship are welcome. There is an egalitarian section of the Wall and it will be expanded and made even more aesthetically pleasing. Those looking to find meaning in their lives can reconnect with Judaism in a Jewish country in which one need not strive to hide one’s Jewishness to be accepted. Institutions of Jewish learning abound and are very welcoming.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for anti semitism. It will continue to gain new adherents. As the world becomes an ever more dangerous place, the Jews as scapegoat, aka Israel, will continue to grow in popularity, as expressions of sympathy with Israel will be forbidden. The recent lesbian marches are prime examples. However, all efforts should be made to counter this anti semitism in every way possible.

Finally, Jews need to begin treating each other with greater respect. There is no reason for name calling, or shaming Jews with whom one disagrees. One need not agree with a fellow Jew, but should not make the disagreement a basis for the denigration of the other. Multiple viewpoints can and should exist and the merits of each debated respectfully. We must remember that all Jews are family and we must try to act accordingly.

May everyone’s fast be easy and meaningful. May our next Tisha B’Av will be one of rejoicing, not mourning.

Categories: Anti Semitism, Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Politics, Temple Mount, Tisha B"av, UNESCO, Western Wall Kotel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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