Friday, December 24, 2010

Give a little bit...

Every year I try to provide a list of not for profits for you to consider giving to before the end of the year (and the tax year). Even if you don't give to these organizations, they are interesting to learn about. I wish all of my readers a Healthy and Happy New Year. Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite not for profit. 

General Recommended Not For Profits

To Health

Many of my friends are fans of Doctors Without Borders

My friend Dana suggested this fund that helps people pay for transplants. 

My family has been impacted by Multiple Sclerosis. 

My cousin Robert Kinberg passed away last summer from a brain tumor

Friends and family have lost loved ones or a currently fighting the following diseases: 

Ten Jewish Organizations

American Jewish World Service does good work throughout the world. 

Facing History and Ourselves is a great educational organization that teaches about the Holocaust and other genocides and more. 

Mazon is a Jewish response to hunger.

Hadassah is reinventing itself. 
Love the values taught by Panim.

Good volunteer work being done by Avodah, the Jewish Service Corps and Otzma.

My youth was greatly enhanced by the South Bend Hebrew Day School, Sinai Synagogue and the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley. 

Ten  Jewish Organizations (Conflicts of Interest)

 I am happily employed by Shorashim an organization dedicated to bringing Jewish Americans and Israelis together via culturally based programs. 

Shorashim receives support from these stellar organizations JUFJNFCJP, and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington D.C.

Shorashim received grants for a project I'm involved in from the ICenter and the Jewish Education Project.

Most of my work has to do with Taglit-Birthright Israel. 

I'm a member and some time employee of Anshe Emet Synagogue. I used to work at the Chicagoland Jewish High School. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Chanukah!

It’s Chanukah night four. Almost time to light the candles. And after listening to the Maccabeats “Candlelight” (2:05-2:30 is the best singing. Go Gingi!)  over and over (resistance is futile) and reading the hysterical (with a few anti-Semitic and anti-Israel) comments on Youtube, I think it’s time that a public declaration is made.

It’s time to stop being apologists about Chanukah.

Yes, you know who you are. The people who say, Chanukah is only a popular holiday because it’s near Christmas.  Perhaps the popularity part is true, but who cares? Chanukah has been an important Jewish holiday for over 1000 years. The reason the celebration of it changed in about 140 C.E. to focus on the “miracle of the candlelight” was because Judaism changed from a nationalistic religion to entirely a spiritual one. The holidays then that really mattered were the ones based on spirituality and time (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot).  The dreydel, as I learned as a kid, was created as a ruse for kids to grab quickly to play so they wouldn’t get in trouble in anti-Semitic societies if they were studying Jewish texts.  

It's the 21st century. There is a Jewish Nation State with modern day Maccabees (although most of them aren’t religious zealots like the original Maccabees. Chanukah is not just a story about fighting the Assyrian Greeks but it was also a Jewish civil war to wipe out elements of assimilation) living in Israel. We have a globally thriving Jewish community who shouldn’t feel that Chanukah is Christmas’ concubine.

Du du du du. Du du du du.

Also, the lessons from the Chanukah story are lovely. They commemorate perseverance during adversity, valuing of freedom of religion and being thankful for miracles.  And who wouldn’t mind a miracle right now with rising unemployment, two unwinnable wars, a lame and lame duck Congress, a State Department that has lost much of its international credibility, fires in Israel, etc. etc.?

So I’m going to go light my Chanukiah (menorah), say the blessings, and then limit myself to 10 more listens of Candlelight and the South Park Dreydel song (a little offensive).  Then I need to clean my apartment after last night’s work Shabbanica party because my parents are spending the night here tomorrow to celebrate Chanukah with their grandchildren, and remember my awesome Zadie who was born on the fifth candle. On the sixth candle, I hope my present is a good report from my dad’s doctor that he is three years Cancer free.

Happy Chanukah!