Hanukkah, holidays, Judaism, media, YouTube

Hanukkah: It’s all about the music

Music is appropriate for a ton of things, like having a good time (or getting through a bad time…) and holidays are no different in this matter. And while everyone knows the famous X-mas songs (whether they like them or not), for Hanukkah, one might think the chosen people certainly don’t have much to choose from when it comes to serenading one another amongst the holiday season. Sure everyone knows Maos Tzur and whatever tune they have for Haneiriot Hallalu, but after those two, the traditional options of song become much limited in genre (and in overall quality).

Continue reading “Hanukkah: It’s all about the music”

Current Events, Hanukkah, holidays, Judaism, Loser List, media, YouTube

Loser List #8- Fundamentalist Orthodox Christians in Moldova

Allow me to present to you my newest favourite video to hate on:

What we have here is a blatant example of antisemitism. In public. And where are all the people trying to stop this disgusting display? No police? Continue reading “Loser List #8- Fundamentalist Orthodox Christians in Moldova”

Hanukkah, Judaism, life, outline, Yeshiva

A Preview to “This Day In Yeshiva History- January 3” (background info)

Well it’s actually because I can’t get the full post out in time before shabbat comes in 4:34. So I’ll give a quick sneak preview before I post the whole thing tomorrow night.

I spent a year in yeshiva (a Jewish school for Biblical studies, males only) in Jerusalem, Israel. That year spanned from September 2005-June 2006. The name of the yeshiva was Ohr David, an American yeshiva (all the guys who went there are American, except us Canadians). The place was recommended to me by my rabbi @ NCSY, a Jewish youth organization I’d been involved with in high school. I also had connections through an NCSY summer camp called Camp Sports I attended in Baltimore, where a lot of the guys who went there eventually went to Ohr David. I won’t call it a Baal Teshuva yeshiva – for Jews who weren’t religious when born and brought up but are re-connecting) but there were some BTs there, like me. I’d say it was more for guys who had potential but failed to realize it, guys who had issues at home and needed a place to just grow and prosper. We actually had a great mix of guys from different walks of Jewish life, from different places, upbringings, and where we were holding in our Yiddishkeit. But we all had one thing in common – we were all looking to improve ourselves one way or another. There was just 55 of us at most, and soon enough as the year begun, we were family.T’ was the best year of my life.

In fact the Lunar calender this year is on the exact time set it was that year – which means that all the holidays and when they will fall on the secular calendar are on the exact day of the week with exactly the same circumstances – i.e. the sixth day of Hanukkah that year fell on shabbat (Saturday), which also happens to be Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the month) = that also happened this year. I know that because its the longest Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals) you can say – because of the inclusions. So I’m interested to see what similarities evolve between this year and that year.

I wasn’t exactly sure when I was going to do write this because the Hebrew date at the time was the 3rd of Tevet, which was just after Hannukah (which ends on the 2nd). I was also unsure about what date I was going to write about because a lot happened at that time. I figured I’d go with the english date for now, because I had another article I wanted to write on the last day of Hannukah, which was the day I wrote my previous two articles. I’ll decide later whether or not to keep to English or Hebrew dates, depending on the significance of the day and happening.

The 7th night of Hannukah, happened to be New Years, and a Saturday night, therefore once Shabbat was over, technically we could party if we wanted. Even though we were technically on a break over the Hannukah holiday, there were still some optional morning classes, we went to meals at our rabbis house almost every night of the holiday, and had a big party in the yeshiva of of the nights too. So New Years Day was pretty much our only day off. I spent it pretty well, which I tell in detail in the next post. Okay. So first I’ll recap. Being Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) in Jerusalem on the night of December 31st, also the 7th night of Hanukkah. Surprisingly enough, I actually have an opportunity to do something for new years. I’ve never really cared about new years, it’s just another day to me. All I did was meet up with friends at a place and soon after midnight we headed back to yeshiva. Aside from not being the most important thing, we called it an early evening because 6 of us wanted to go to the Dead Sea for the day the next day, and we had to leave early to catch a bus to do so. That was a fun day.

I could have purely focused on that day but a few days ago, my dad read me something he was emailed, which seemed like such a coincidence considering what I was doing in yeshiva a few days later on the 3rd, so I decided to choose that topic while including something about the days before.

Hope you enjoy it!
Shabbat Shalom/Good Shabbos/Sabbatical Salutations and Benedictions

(don’t ask about the last greeting)

Hanukkah, holidays, Judaism, media

Holiday Happenings- Radio Hanukkah and so much more…

Happy holidays ye old townspeople… I took a small sabbatical from writing (and pretty much everything else) over the holidays just to recuperate a little more from school (like I really need that much support 😉 but more importantly to kick back and enjoy the holidays. And that includes everyone no matter what you celebrate- even if you celebrate simply having time off from whatever you do on a normal basis.

So as the Festival of Lights begins to flicker away – no pun intended, it just sounded nice when I thought it out, here’s a few things that were apparent over this year’s edition of the holiday season:

For me personally, Hanukkah shares a special significance: My Hebrew birth date -aka the date I was born on in the Hebrew calender – is the 25th of the month of Kislev – the first day Hanukkah. I was actually born on the day (not the preceding night) and literally just made it before sunset, thus making it the 26th. I like to remind my parents that I was their ‘miracle baby’ and ‘the light of their lives’ or any other useful Hanukkah metaphor that could be fit with birth 🙂

So when the first candle was lit – that was the moment I finally felt 21. To honour the times, everyday @ morning services, there’s an additional reading from the Torah, which I usually try to read for the congregation every year. It’s a challenge, but I love it. So I spend a little time practicing, even though a lot of it is the same words over and over again. Look it up and you’ll know what I mean.

Anyways about the holidays…

I’m sitting in my Dad’s car Sunday morning (on the 21st) waiting for my dad to return after picking up a Toronto Star at the local Shopper’s Drug Mart after morning services. Unfortunately, there’s no National Post on Sunday, which is really too bad, if you ask me…

So as I’m waiting I begin playing with one of the car’s coolest features: XM Satellite Radio
We’ve only had the car since July but we can’t get enough of it. It actually provides us with what we want without any tassels or what not. Everyone gets to listen to what they like and variety is at a premium (Note- this is not a plug for satellite radio, rather a kudos for its services).

One of my favourite stations is the all Led Zeppelin station on channel 39. It happens to be the first of the rock stations on the dial. As I’m listening I go to turn up the volume and accidentally hit the channel changing nob instead, to channel 38. What I hear next is quite astounding.

For the next 8 days and nights, tune into Radio Hanukkah, channel 38 on XM Satellite Radio for all your holiday favourites and classics, as well as live footage of the lighting of the White House National Menorah in Washington…

Interesting. After all the years of having to listen to the same Christmas songs, I can now go into the car and hear all my favourite Hanukkah songs!

Okay that wasn’t my real initial reaction, but I was surprised to hear something remotely Jewish on the radio, let alone a national station (satellite nonetheless) completely devoted to something of a Jewish nature, the holiday of Hanukkah! I ended up getting my family hooked to the station. Of course you had your usual songs like Hanerot Halalu, Maoz Tzur, and Oy Hanukkah (“Oy Hanukkah, Oy Hanukkah, come light the menorah, lets have a party, we’ll all dance the hora..”) but there was so much more. You could even hear those songs in several different languages, (Yiddish!) and in different musical forms (Klezmer!). Yeah I’m being sarcastic but just like your typical Christmas music that’s played over and over again, unfortunately it’s not too different from the Hanukkah music, so what gives? you ask…

Like bands like Zeppelin, AC/DC, Elvis, Springsteen and the Grateful Dead, who all have their own stations on satellite radio, you have to have a pretty large catalogue of material to demand that kind of air play. Not to mention the demand (yay!!) The station, which is in its 3rd year, is only available for the 8 days if the holiday (so ends tonight 😦

The station features all sorts of music such as the usual classics, Klezmer bands, Israeli folk and traditional music, kids music, contemporary Jewish music, music from Jewish themed and inspired movies and Broadway plays, as well as hourly live features from Jewish bands such as Soulfarm, Blue Fringe, Rebbie Soul and others. Not only is there music, but there’s also a variety of classes given by some of the most reknown speakers such as Rabbi Shmuley (who had an hourly slot at noon), Janis Ian. There’s Jewish comedy too! And you can’t forget Carlebach… a Jewish music essential!

Not bad for a group of people who only make up about 1% of the world’s population.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday, whatever you were celebrating!

Click here if you want to know more about the station:

I’m not purely responsible for this work of art. My friend put it together in yeshiva and I took a picture of it. But yes, it’s a menorah made of beer bottles, entirely kosher. (no need for Manishevitz)