When Hanukkah is not enough: Jews consider their place in Christmas culture

By Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco

December in America is unlike any other month. The cold bite of winter finally sets in, the sky grows dark earlier and consumerism abounds.

A confluence of all these factors gives way to the general feelings of cheeriness that characterize this holiday season. In just about every city, it seems as though we are inundated with fake icicles and the fresh smell of evergreen furs while Nat King Cole takes over the radio and becomes the elevator music a la mode.

Nativity scenes fill suburban lawns and neighbors quietly compete for the best display of Christmas lights in the neighborhood. Every year around this time, many American Jews begin wondering, “What is my relationship to this joyful holiday season that purportedly stems from a holiday that is not my own?”

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Legally speaking: Let’s discuss simple steps to plan for estate administration

By B. Scott Skillman

Preparing for last wishes and estate administration is a topic relevant to us all and one most of us tend to delay or avoid confronting. Over the next several months (with the approval of the UHC board), I intend to present a series of articles about things we all can do — no matter what age or phase of life — to assist our families in the event of our incapacity or passing.

There are simple steps we can all take to help our families should we be unable to make decisions about our care or final arrangements. We need not fear these steps or hesitate to take them.

Although these moves ultimately deal with our passing, they are essential life choices. These choices convey our thoughts about how we wish to handle difficult decisions and take the stress of such decisions away from our families or life partners who otherwise might be forced to confront them due to a lack of clear communication on our part.

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Bitter Cheshvan’s dearth of holidays allows return to comforting routine

By Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco

We have just completed Cheshvan, the month between Tishrei and Kislev, also known as Mar Cheshvan.

There is a quaint tradition that holds Cheshvan as the “bitter” month, deriving from the Hebrew word mar, meaning “bitter”, because of the lack of holidays that fall within its span.

While not all Jewish holidays are joyous occasions (think Yom Kippur or Tisha B’av) the lack of any holiday during this time deprives us of a fixed opportunity for self-reflection and introspection, contributing to the aforementioned moniker.

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Sisterhood sets final meeting until March, opens Hanukkah gift shop

By Patty Lewis

November is a changing of the time, a changing of the leaves and definitely a turn to cold weather. It’s also a time for turkeys, pumpkin pie and family gatherings. But everyone doesn’t have a big family that gathers for the holidays, as you see on the Hallmark Channel.

So, if you have a few empty chairs around your table for Thanksgiving and you know someone who will otherwise be alone for the holiday, now is a good time to think about them.

Speaking of holidays, Hanukkah will begin the evening of Sunday, Dec. 2, and Sisterhood has set up the gift shop in the Vestry Room. Contact me or Norma at the Temple and stop by any weekday to shop!

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