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December 7, 2017/19 Kislev 5778/TORAH PORTION: Va’Yeshev

Rabbi, Penny and the Board of Directors would like to wish everyone a Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah!

We hope to see and welcome you in person at services this Sabbath, December 1st. The air is filled the spirit of Chanukah lights beginning December 12th. Don’t forget to come by and purchase your Chanukah gift supplies from our gift shop.

Chanukah – Festival of Light

Chanukah 2017 begins Monday, December 12th after sunset and continues for eight continues days through December 19.   Chanukah is a Jewish celebration of historical and religious significance.

A Jewish holiday which celebrates religious & political freedom and liberation  from the rule of the Greek-Asyrian rulers.  Historically it began with Alexander the Great, when the Talmud details conversations young Alexander had with the sages of the time, concluding that the Jews in his empire will be permitted to retain & practice Judaism.  Alexander’s death in 323 B.C.E. split his kingdom into three: Greece, Egypt, and Syria, and the new rulers of Syria, called Seleucids were not interested in co-existence, but assimilation of the Jews into their society.

In the year 199 B.C.E., the land of Israel was conquered by the Seleucids (Greeks who lived in Syria).The Syrian-Greeks pursued a policy of forced assimilation of the Jews. Torah study became a capital crime. If a parent was found to have circumcised an infant son, both the parent and child were put to death. The Greeks set up idols in the Jewish town squares, summoned the Jews to the square and forced them to worship the statue or sacrifice a pig before it. The Syrian-Greeks wanted the Jews to renounce their own heritage and to be like them. Their campaign against Judaism began slowly, but by 168 B.C.E. they had desecrated the Holy Temple, setting a statue of Zeus in the main plaza. In the town of Modin, west of Jerusalem, there lived a man named Mattitiyahu (Matthias). He was from the Hasmonean family, one of the branches of the priestly families.

We read about the events leading to Chanukah in the Books of Maccabees, detailing of a small band of Jewish fighters under the leadership of Judah the Maccabee, (the hammer) culmination with the liberation of the city Jerusalem and especially the Holy Temple from the Syrian-Greeks legions who occupied it.

Under the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanies in 165 BCE, who sought to impose their Hellenistic religion and culture, defiling the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and banning Jewish practices.

The Maccabees had done all that was physically possible, the re-enter the Holy Temple and began to purify it. They found a jar of oil enough to kindle the Menorah (seven candelabrum) for one day. To prepare for more oil would require a process of at least seven days, miraculously, the single jar burned for eight days. Thus Chanukah is more than a holiday; Chanukah is an eight-day spiritual journey.  It is a story of a little candle pushing away the monster of frightening darkness, of human sensibility overcoming terror and brutal force, of life and growth overcoming destruction.

The Talmud (Rabbinic Judaism) describes Chanukah as a holiday of “praise and thanksgiving” in commemoration of the miraculous over throw of the Syrian Greeks, the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the single cruse of oil that lasted eight days. Jews kindle the lights of the chanukiyah, the eight-branched candelabrum. These lights, which can be either be candles or with oil, grow in strength during the eight days, with the addition of one candle each night. Potato latkes (pancakes) fried in oil are served, followed by a favorite activity playing with a four-sided spinning top known as a dreidel with four Hebrew letters-nun, gimel, hey, shin, representing “a great miracle happened there.” Chanukah is a time of religious celebration and family gatherings, gift giving and favorite holiday foods. One of the most prominent themes is the ongoing struggle for liberation in the face of oppression, thus celebrating the process and its outcome.

As the Menorah is lit at sunset, a blessing is recited :”Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us to kindle the Chanukah light.”

Printed copies of the upcoming Yahrtzeit are available at the front of the sanctuary.

We invite members and friends to Torah studies with Torah commentaries, Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. on December 9 and 16. Our morning sessions will include review of the Torah portion focusing on Rashi and other Torah commentators.

We pray for speedy recovery ‘re’fua she’lma’ to all who require healing in our community. If you wish that a name of a sick person(s) mentioned at services, please send the names to the rabbi.

We would like to encourage every Jewish person in our area to join us as member and join our Temple Israel family in building a Jewish life here in Valdosta. If you know of any Jewish person or family unaffiliated invite them to services.     

Best wishes to those among us who are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or another joyous occasion. Let rabbi know that you are celebrating a happy event and will announce it from the Bimah at services.

Mazel Tov to the upcoming birthday of Norman Golivesky

Mazel Tov on the forthcoming birthday of Harold Cohen

Sabbath Evening Services – always at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, December 8 – Oneg is being sponsored by Laura & Kim Perlman

Friday, December 15 – Oneg is being sponsored by Cindy Sigler in honor of Harold Cohen’s birthday. Shabbat Chanukah

Friday, December 22 – Oneg is being sponsored by Vivian Melton

UPCOMING YAHRZEITS – SCHEDULE

DECEMBER 9-15, 2017            21-27 KISLEV 5778

  • Marsha S. Meyers (12/9)
  • Hyman Taylor (12/10)
  • Lillian Weinstein (12/12)
  • Sam Kalin (12/12)
  • Moshe Meer (12/14)
  • David Minson (12/15)
  • Harry Karlip (12/13)
  • Richard Small (12/13)
  • Richard ‘Dick’ Wilson (12/11)

DECEMBER 16-22, 2017          28 KISLEV-4 TEVET 5778

  • Charles Polonsky (12/17)
  • Virgina Morris (12/20)
  • Ethel Rebecca Karlip (12/17)
  • William J. Pearlman (12/17)

A Yahrzeit, a memorial lamp will (if available on the large bronze tablets) be lit in the Synagogue. On the appropriate date and a Mourner’s Kaddish may be recited .