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Channukah

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“It is forbidden to light with an old candle” – Chanuka and the Oral Torah
“It is forbidden to light with an old candle” – Chanuka and the Oral Torah
What does it mean for Chanuka to be the only major holiday invented in the post-biblical era?  Through hassidic sources, we will explore Chanuka’s message regarding novelty and creativity in our Torah and in our lives.
Purim and Chanuka: Megillah and Hallel
Purim and Chanuka: Megillah and Hallel
A central observance of Chanuka is the recitation of Hallel on all eight days; on Purim Hallel is not recited. We will study the significance of this distinction.
Purim and Chanuka: Text and Temple
Purim and Chanuka: Text and Temple
The observance of Purim centers around the Megillah, which becomes part of the canon. Chanuka, by contrast, focuses on the lighting of the candles, a Temple ritual. We will discuss the implications of each.
Maccabees and Martyrdom
Maccabees and Martyrdom
Dying for a cause is considered by many the most noble form of death, and dying for one’s faith has a long and complicated history. The first Jewish martyrdom stories are from the books of Maccabees, and we will look at how this idea is used in that context, and then how it evolved and developed over the following centuries, in early Christianity and into rabbinic Judaism.
The Jews of Diaspora in the Hasmonean Period
The Jews of Diaspora in the Hasmonean Period
When the Hasmoneans ruled Judea in the second and first centuries BCE, hundreds of thousands of  pious Jews were comfortably settled in Egypt – with no plans to return to their homeland. We will discuss what these Jews practiced, how they related to the land of Israel and the Jerusalem Temple, and what it meant to assimilate into the Greco-Roman world and still identify as a Jew.
What Did Chanuka Stand For in Ancient Times?
What Did Chanuka Stand For in Ancient Times?
We will explore the earliest sources that retold the dramatic story of Chanuka, and will consider how ancient retellings of Chanuka changed over time – and why.
Chanuka and Sukkot
Chanuka and Sukkot
We will conduct a detailed analysis of the significance of the commonalities the festivals of Chanuka and Sukkot.
Darkness Envelops Me
Darkness Envelops Me
The Talmud tells about the origins of Chanuka in a way that closely parallels a talmudic legend about Adam’s first encounter with darkness. As Chanuka begins, we will study these talmudic texts to illuminate our own encounter with the darkness and with the holiday of Chanuka.
Light against Darkness: The Miraculous Survival of the Holiday of Chanuka
Light against Darkness: The Miraculous Survival of the Holiday of Chanuka
The holiday of Chanuka was one of many celebrations connected to the Hasmoneans, and virtually the only one to have survived antiquity. How can we explain the curious survival of Chanuka – a holiday that celebrates the re-dedication of a temple later destroyed? Why did Chanuka's flickering lights continue to outshine the darkness?
Guiding Lights: Illuminating the Distinctions of the Chanukia and the Menorah
Guiding Lights: Illuminating the Distinctions of the Chanukia and the Menorah
Does the ‘chanukia’ simply model the Menorah of the Mishkan -with an extra candle? Our session will begin by comparing the ‘Menorah’ to the other vessels of the Mishkan, in an attempt to ​better understand what it symbolizes. Afterward, we will turn to the prophet Chagai and the book of Macabees to appreciate why the Menorah became the national symbol of the Second Temple period – which will shed light on our Rabbinic tradition of lighting a ‘chanukia’ on Chanuka.
The Prophet Who Stole Chanukah: The Biblical Roots of a Rabbinic Holiday
The Prophet Who Stole Chanukah: The Biblical Roots of a Rabbinic Holiday
An exploration of the similarities and differences between Chanukah and the winter holidays of other faiths. Part of The Renee and Alexander Bohm Memorial Lecture Series.
Joseph’s Temptations and Channukah: Delivering the Powerful into the Hands of the Weak
Joseph’s Temptations and Channukah: Delivering the Powerful into the Hands of the Weak
How is sibling rivalry reflected in the story of Channukah? Part of The Renee and Alexander Bohm Memorial Lecture Series.
Thoughts on Channukah
Thoughts on Channukah
An exploration of the Sfat Emet's views on regularity and new experiences through the lens of Channukah.
Assimilationists or Maccabees? Historical Confrontations Between Jewish Laws and Individual Rights in Post-Revolutionary America
Assimilationists or Maccabees? Historical Confrontations Between Jewish Laws and Individual Rights in Post-Revolutionary America
How did the Jews of early America begin to grapple with the implications of freedom and democracy on Jewish life? Part of The Renee and Alexander Bohm Memorial Lecture Series.
Channukah: The Fire of Renewal and Hope
Channukah: The Fire of Renewal and Hope
An exploration of Channukah's connections to the holiday of Sukkot, the Temple Service, and sacred space.