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The Edible Torah


Posts Tagged ‘chanukah’

VIDEO: Chanukah Hip-Hop Graphic Novel

Another tasty video the keep the fire of Chanukah joy burning in your eyes and your mind!

Dear Google: I Expected Better

In addition to being the de-facto search engine, Google clearly enjoys being clever and giving visitors a little extra when they visit.

One way they do this is the “Google Doodle” that changes almost every day, reflecting various holidays, events and happenings. In many cases, the Google Doodle is different depending on the country where you are located when you are performing your search.

Another is in their use of “easter eggs” – hidden little functions or responses that you have to hunt for, and may be surprised when you find.

Go to and type “tilt” into the search bar and the screen… tilts.

Type “do a barrel roll” and it will.

Type “where is Chuck Norris” and… well, I’ll let you see how that one works for yourself.

Delve further into the land of geekyness and there are interesting responses for phrases like “answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything”, “ascii art”, “recursion”, “anagram” and “about: internets”.

Two new(ish) easter eggs came to light last week. Type “let it snow” and after a minute your screen will begin to fill with little round flakes. Wait longer and it will fog up, allowing you to “draw” with your mouse as you would on a foggy window pane.

The other is: “Hanukkah”. Primed as I was by the highly interactive “let it snow”, I was expecting something pretty clever – glowing candles, frying latkes, even a spinning dreidle. Sure those are all cliché’s but it’s a Google easter egg for pete’s sake. I’m not expecting a Star Wars style scrolling narrative that tells the history of the Maccabees against a backdrop of a Roman Imperial phalanx throwing spears at a beleaguered Jewish platoon.

(On second thought, that would be really really cool…)

What you get, however, is … a border of stars and dreidles.

My first reaction was “That’s it?!? That’s the best that the great minds in the GooglePlex have to offer? I already came to terms with the fact that there’s no Google Doodle for Hanukkah. But now I have to live down this cheesy second rate non-animation too?

Here’s the thing though. A little bit of digging shows that this is, in fact, completely unfair because Hanukkah is the only holiday that gets the easter egg treatment at all. Google “Christmas”, “Kwanzaa”,  “Diwali”,  “Ramadan” (yeah, I know it was nowhere near December this year, but I was trying to be thorough) and you get bupkes.

And for the record, of all the holidays I mentioned, only Diwali has a Doodle specifically for it. Even the Christmas doodles are of the much more generic “happy holiday” style

While “let it snow” is certainly reminiscent of Christmas, it’s also reminiscent of Mt. Everest. Or the South Pole. Or Buffalo.

So I’d like to formally call out Google and ask “what gives?”. I’m sure you can do better.

VIDEO: Tonight, Tonight

As we stand on the cusp of the Chanukah season, I have another video offering for you. This one is from Pella:


VIDEO: Light Up the Night

Here’s a video from the FountainHeads to brighten the upcoming Chanukah season. It’s not my favorite so far, but the geek in me can certainly appreciate the “Matrix” theme. And I’m dying to know where they got or created the Hebrew-letter matrix screensaver (at the 9 second mark).

Anyway, enjoy!

The Real Miracle

Image courtesy of Joel Robinson

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
— G.K. Chesterton

I picked up this picture and quote from my friend Aaron, who runs at OpenSource Judaism (click over there and say ‘hi’. Also congratulate him on his new baby.). It reminded me of a similar quote from my friend and teacher Naomi Chase.

She was talking about Chanukah, and the various narratives around it. Being a stuck up know-it-all at the beginning of what was to be a long (and ongoing) Jewish learning experience, I wanted my Chanukah information unvarnished and honest. No more baby stories about oil. I knew better.

  • The holiday is 8 days because the last holiday the Hasmoneans (ie: Maccabees) missed was Sukkot. So upon re-dedicating the Temple, they gave a nod to that festival and added an additional day at the end to commemorate their victory.
  • The oil story was added later, by Rabbis who were uncomfortable with the reality of Jew-on-Jew violence that the Chanukah story contains.
  • The whole holiday was a mere footnote on the calendar until about 150 years ago, when a certain other gift-giving seasonal event became prominent, and some people felt the need to compete.

Naomi listened to my dissertation, nodding in understanding. I was proud that I had learned the grown-up version of the holiday. I didn’t need any babyish…

“What about the miracle?” she asked.

I was at a loss. I had just explained that the miracle story about the oil was added later.

“Yes,” she continued. “But as much as some scholars – ancient or modern – might have been prone to either equivocation or exaggeration, they weren’t in the habit of publicly pronouncing a miracle from God where there was none.” she stated. “If our liturgy talks about miracles as explicitly as it does, then it is incumbent on us – even though we *are* adults and not babies – to determine why they would add that language. The Jews have won a lot of military conflicts through the years, and none of the rest of them have this kind of attention. So I’m asking again: What about the miracle? Al Ha-Nissim and all that, ‘We thank you for the miracles’. What miracle are they talking about?”

Deflated and defeated (but now curious as well), my meager supply of Jewish knowledge used up, I replied “I got nuthin.”

And that’s when she laid it on me. The quote that matches Mr. Chesterton’s above:

“The miracle we find in the story of Chanukah isn’t whether oil lasted for one day, or three, or eight.

It’s that, after all they had been through and all they knew could befall them in the coming weeks and years,

the people still chose to light the menorah in the first place.”

I’ve since connected with the idea that this is the reason we light the candles each year. Not because we are re-enacting the first oil crisis to hit the middle east. No, we are recreating the act that mattered:

The Jewish people: some alienated from their own faith by years of assimilation, others polarized into fanaticism in an effort survive when other groups had been consumed, and still others trying to reconcile where they stand day by day, moment by moment. Both groups healing from hurts (real or perceived) inflicted on them by the other – those people still felt it was worthwhile to clean up their holiest space, to set things right again, and to observe an ancient practice not because they were obsessively holding onto the past, not because they were fearful of anything new, but because they believed it was an essential part of who they were.

More importantly, they believed it was important to express – visibly and publicly – that belief in who they were.

I recognize that many things are the same today as it was then. In the spectrum of the Jewish people, some of us have assimilated, some have clung to tradition, some are in motion between those two points. All of us have an emotional stake in where we are and where we want to be. In our varying views we haven’t always been gracious or supportive or even polite to the other. Hurts – real or perceived – remain unhealed. The Holy Temple – our spiritual center-point that exists today in our heart rather than any fixed place on the planet – still needs to be put back in order.

But this year most of us (even those who have lost hold of any of our other traditions) will  stand again in front of our Chanukiah – a reflection of the Temple’s menorah during that initial moment of dedication after destruction. If we reading carefully, the abrupt shift in tense – from past to present – will not be lost on us.

Al Ha-Nissim…

“And [we thank You] for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, and for the wonders which You have wrought for our ancestors in those days, at this time


Two Bright Musical Lights for Chanukah

Here is the newest release from the Maccabeats, another Chanukah offering, to warm the cold days and brighten the darkening nights.

The video is set to  a cover of Matisyahu‘s “Miracle”.

For what it’s worth, I like Matisyahu’s video message better.

Musical Interlude

In a little under a month, that holiday will be upon us once more. The one that isn’t a big deal (unless we choose to make it so). The one might not be such a dilemma except that we keep talking about it that way. (A couple of years ago Julie Silver tweeted: “”You keep talking about a “December Dilemma” and it’s just going to keep on existing. Get it?”).

All of which is, for me at least, fine. I wrestle with Passover, I wrestle with Yom Kippur. It should come as no surprise that the other holidays present their challenges as well as their moments of sublime joy.

But the music issue bugs me. I wrote about it back in 2009 (“Chanukah Music Maligned“), in response to an offhand comment on an NPR program.

This year Craig Taubman has taken matters into his own musically gifted hands, assembling a fantastic array of Chanukah-related music that takes us far, far beyond the Dreidl song.

Lights, vol. 2 – A Hanukkah Music Sampler” is availale for download (either as individual songs or the entire album) on On it you can hear an eclectic mix of 18 songs from Josh Nelson, Naomi Less, Smooth-E and more. The old standards (Mi Yimalel, Maoz Tzur) are there alongside tunes you would definitely not expect, including a Scottish Niggun and a techno-rap tune that closes the album.

Better still, it is (at least as of this posting) free. A true Hanukkah gift. Download it for yourself, send it as a gift to others, and allow Lights to brighten the progressively darkening days as we approach the festival of dedication.

OmerChallenge: Day 36

Today is thirty-six days which are five weeks and one day in the Omer.
Hayom shishah ushloshim yom shehaym chamishah shavuot veyom echad la-omer.

Which Jewish holiday to you have the most decorations for?

Here at EdibleTorah HQ, we love us some decorations, as you can probably tell from the chart above.

By the way, that’s not measuring decorations or even how many DOZENS of decorations. It’s in “buckets”. Those big, 75 gallon, doubles-for-a-footlocker buckets.

I’ve written about Halloween before (here), so it might not come as a surprise that I have a lot of stuff for that particular day on the calendar. It doesn’t help that Mrs. EdibleTorah loves to shop day-after sales, and there are always tons of goodies to be had at 75% off on November 1. I think I have one bucket full of nothing but LED lights.

That having been said, I can also tell you that the Sukkot buckets – which 2 years ago comprised one pitifully small 15-gallon tub, are catching up on the 2nd place Chanukah with alarming speed.

I can only guess what the coming year will bring.