Happy Chanukah-It’s all about the Neis

I love Hanukkah because it’s the holiday  of miracles and lights.

Light conveys both an absence of darkness and a quality that will help us to see — and understand — more clearly.

I feel like we all need lot’s of light right now.

A civil war and oppression from the west. Sound familiar?

The Story of Chanukah

“The story of Chanukah begins in the reign of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt and Palestine, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy.  Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated much of Hellenistic culture, adopting the language, the customs and the dress of the Greeks, in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society.

More than a century later, a successor of Alexander, Antiochus IV was in control of the region.”

He was waging war against Egypt and there was a rumor going around that he had died.

“The deposed High Priest Jason gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem. Menelaus was the High Priest appointed by Antiochus, but he was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. The King returned from Egypt in 167 BCE, enraged by his defeat, and he attacked Jerusalem and restored Menelaus, then executed many Jews.

When these happenings were reported to the king, he thought that Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery.

— 2 Maccabees 5:11–14

Antiochus decided to side with the Hellenized Jews in order to consolidate his empire and strengthen his hold over the region. He outlawed Jewish religious rites and traditions kept by observant Jews and ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god (2 Maccabees 6:1–12). This was anathema to the Jews and they refused, so Antiochus sent an army to enforce his decree. The city was destroyed because of the resistance, many were slaughtered, and a military Greek citadel was established called the Acra.

He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. Two groups opposed Antiochus: a basically nationalistic group led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee, and a religious traditionalist group known as the Chasidim, the forerunners of the Pharisees (no direct connection to the modern movement known as Chasidism). They joined forces in a revolt against both the assimilation of the Hellenistic Jews and oppression by the Seleucid Greek government. The revolution succeeded and the Temple was rededicated.

occupy_maccabee

According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the re dedication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle. Note that the holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory: Jews do not glorify war.

This week we commemorate the miracle and the light. We are the light. We have to stay the light.

Even way back then there were war mongering  power hungry wing nuts.

Who was Judah Maccabee? (by Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf)

The Greeks were different from other empires. They didn’t just want your land, your resources and your riches — they wanted your national essence, your culture. They wanted you to think like them, live like them and even be entertained like them. The problem was most Jews weren’t buying, and the Greeks didn’t appreciate that. So the Greeks brought pressure to bear on the Jews.

Women who insisted that their sons be circumcised were killed along with their babies. Brides were forced to sleep with Greek officers before they could be with their husbands. Jews were required to eat pork and sacrifice pigs to the Greek gods. The teaching of Torah became a capital crime.

The sages and their students went into hiding in order to study and preserve the Torah. Secret weddings were held. Most Jews did anything and everything to remain Jewish. Many were tortured and murdered for their defiance. A period of darkness and suffering descended upon the Jews of Israel.

The Hasmonean family was led by Mattisyahu and his five sons: Shimon, Yochanan, Yehudah (Judah), Elazar and Yonasan. Mattisyahu was a devout man who could not bear to see Judaism and the Jewish spirit crushed. It was his family that led the revolt against the vastly superior Greek forces. Mattisyahu understood that the battle was far less for national liberation than it was for spiritual and religious liberation. Though Mattisyahu’s valor provided the initial spark for the revolt against the Greeks, he died shortly after the rebellion grew into a full-fledged war. The mantle of leadership passed from Mattisyahu to his son Judah, and with that the course of history was forever changed.

Judah Maccabee was a fearless leader, a brilliant battlefield tactician and a man capable of inspiring thousands to take up arms in the battle for the preservation of Judaism. It was Judah Maccabee who conceived of ways for the Jewish forces to out-maneuver the larger, better equipped and seasoned Greek army. When at last the Jews captured Jerusalem, rededicated the Temple and witnessed the miracle of the oil, it was with Judah Maccabee as the leader of the Hasmonean family and at the head of the Jewish army of liberation.

The Jewish rebellion was a great event in Jewish history, but tragically, the war against the Greeks was also a civil war. Not all Jews sided with the Maccabees, who to some represented “the past.” Many Hellenized Jews aligned themselves with “progress” and with the future. As a result, Jews battled with one another for the right to define the future of Jewish life and the Jewish nation.”

A tradition of the holiday is playing dreidel, a gambling game played with a square top. Most people play for matchsticks, pennies, M&Ms or chocolate coins. The traditional explanation of this game is that during the time of Antiochus’ oppression, those who wanted to study Torah (an illegal activity) would conceal their activity by playing gambling games with a top (a common and legal activity) whenever an official or inspector was within sight.

dreidel

A dreidel is marked with four Hebrew letters: Nun, Gimel, Hei and Shin. These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham”, a great miracle happened there, referring to the miracle of the oil.

The letters also stand for the Yiddish words nit (nothing), gantz (all), halb (half) and shtell (put), which are the rules of the game! There are some variations in the way people play the game, but the way I learned it, everyone puts in one coin. A person spins the dreidel. If it lands on Nun, nothing happens; on Gimel (or, as we called it as kids, “gimme!”), you get the whole pot; on Hei, you get half of the pot; and on Shin, you put one in. When the pot is empty, everybody puts one in. Keep playing until one person has everything. Then redivide it, because nobody likes a poor winner.

A song

Chanukkah, Oh Chanukkah
Come light the menorah
Let’s have a party
We’ll all dance the hora
Gather round the table, we’ll have a treat
Shiny tops to play with, latkes to eat

And while we are playing
The candles are burning low
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago

God made the sun and it shines for everybody. Ziggy Marley

Here’s is a cute short funny version of the story.

 

 

this video is great (Neis is the miracle) Let’s be the light this year. Let’s all be the Hanukkah miracle.

 

Missing Paul Wellstone

Missing Paul Wellstone

wellstone3

Yesterday I attended Candidate Training with Kevin Winchell in Palm Beach County. He referred to  Wellstone Training and it for a moment  I was terrified that I had not thought about Paul Wellstone for a very long time. TIme passed and people become a blur because they are not in front of us on 24 hour news cycle.

This is one person we can never ever forget.

wellstone4

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Wellstone

Paul David Wellstone (July 21, 1944 – October 25, 2002) was an American academic and politician who represented Minnesota in the United States Senate from 1991 until his death in a plane crash in 2002. A member of the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, Wellstone was a leading spokesman for the progressive wing of the national Democratic Party.

In 1998, Wellstone formed an exploratory committee and a leadership PAC, the Progressive Politics Network, that paid for his travels to Iowa and New Hampshire, two early primary states in the nomination process. He spoke before organized labor and local Democrats, using the slogan, “I represent the democratic wing of the Democratic Party”. Governor Howard Dean later incorporated that phrase into his stump speech in the 2004 US presidential election.[3]

wellstone6

On January 9, 1999, Wellstone called a press conference at the Minnesota State Capitol. Despite expectations that he would announce his candidacy, he stated he could not muster the stamina necessary for a national campaign, citing chronic back problems he ascribed to an old wrestling injury. His pain was later diagnosed as multiple sclerosis.

wellstone5

On October 25, 2002, Wellstone, along with seven others, died in an airplane crash in northern Minnesota, at 10:22 a.m. He was 58 years old. The other victims were his wife, Sheila; one of his three children, Marcia; the two pilots, his driver, and two campaign staffers. The airplane was en route to Eveleth, where Wellstone was to attend the funeral of Martin Rukavina, a steelworker whose son Tom Rukavina served in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Wellstone decided to go to the funeral instead of a rally and fundraiser in Minneapolis attended by Mondale and fellow Senator Ted Kennedy. He was to debate Norm Coleman in Duluth, Minnesota, that same night.

paul wellstone

In 2007, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter joined with David Wellstone to push Congress to pass legislation regarding mental health insurance.[54] Wellstone and Carter worked to pass the “Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008” which requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses when policies include both types of coverage; both testified before a House subcommittee regarding the bill in July 2007.[54] David said of his father, “Although he was passionate on many issues, there was not another issue that surpassed this in terms of his passion.”[54] Because Paul Wellstone’s brother had suffered from mental illness, Wellstone had fought for changes in mental health and insurance laws when he reached the Senate.[54]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Law_110-343#Paul_Wellstone_and_Pete_Domenici_Mental_Health_Parity_and_Addiction_Equity_Act_of_2008

The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (a part of Division C) mandates that if U.S. health insurance companies provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse, the coverage must be equal for conditions such as psychological disorders, alcoholism, and drug addiction.[4][24][25] This act continues and expands upon the previous Mental Health Parity Act of 1996. It states that financial requirements such as deductibles and copayments and lifetime or dollar limits to mental health benefits and substance abuse disorder benefits should be no more restrictive than those on medical and surgical benefits.[26] MHPAEA applies to employer-sponsored health insurance plans with more than 50 employees, though parity is also extended to small group and individual plans under the Affordable Care Act.

He would have loved Obama Care because people like his brother could get the care he deserved.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/paul-wellstones-legacy-10-years-later/264086/

Al Franken wrote

“When today’s progressives remember Paul, they tend to focus on his sheer political courage. Paul was the only senator up for re-election in 2002 to vote against the Iraq War — a vote he told people he was convinced would cost him his job.

One of Paul’s most famous quotes is this: “Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives.

The big fights — war and peace, justice and liberty — are important. But there aren’t any small fights. And where Paul made the biggest impact — where his work resulted in the greatest improvement of people’s lives — was on issues that don’t usually lead anyone’s stump speech: mental health, domestic violence, homelessness among veterans.

Paul’s brother, Stephen, had struggled with mental illness since he was 19. And Paul knew that many people who suffered from mental health problems were forced to suffer all over again because their insurance companies wouldn’t cover the treatments they needed. Paul’s own parents spent 20 years paying down the bill for Stephen’s treatment.

So he found a Republican with a similar first-hand understanding of the problem, New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, and the two introduced legislation that would require insurance companies to treat mental health the same way they did physical health. Paul didn’t live to see mental health parity become law — but it did (thanks in large part to another Republican colleague, Minnesota’s Jim Ramstad), and that crusade has improved, even saved, millions of lives.

hat’s why Paul’s political career began by organizing college students and low-income women to fight for better anti-poverty measures, and organizing farmers to fight against utility companies planning to install power lines on their land. And that’s why the organization that bears his name and carries forward his legacy, Wellstone Action, isn’t a think tank or a super PAC. Wellstone Action trains organizers — not just to articulate progressive values, but to do the “prosaic, practical work” that makes a difference.”

First campaign “Looking for Rudy”

Opposing the Iraq War

“Fast Paul” awesome campaign ad

I’ll never forget the day that Paul Wellstone died. I can never forget this.

and I went to order his book from Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/The-Conscience-Liberal-Reclaiming-Compassionate/dp/081664179X

Amazon reminded me that I bought this book before. I bought it October 2002.

Let’s not forget this awesome man.

wellstone2