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Jerusalem U Blog

Hanukka - 8 Crazy Facts for 8 Crazy Nights

Hanukka is arguably the most popular and best known of Jewish festivals. 

You probably know what it's all about: the Maccabees miraculously beat the Greeks and the thing with the day's worth of oil that burned for eight days... throw in some doughnuts and dreidles and yada yada you have Hannukah... or Chanuka, Hanukah, Hanukka...ok, however you spell it, here are a few crazy Festival of Lights facts that will make you a hit at any candle lighting: 

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The Most Influentual Jews in History?

Yet again, a "water cooler" debate becomes a JU blog, because we want your input! Its an easy question...who do you think were the most influential Jews who ever lived?

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Sound The Shofar - Top Tips To Throw The Awesomest Jewish New Year Party!

Sound the shofar - the Jewish New Year is coming!  While much of the holiday is spent in the synagogue and around the family table, of COURSE you can’t let a New Year’s celebration pass by without a rocking party with friends!  You can hook it all up faster than you can say “Apples and Honey”.

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Apples on Rosh Hashana: Some Great Ways to Add Sweetness to Your New Year.

Most of us know about the custom of dipping an apple in honey on Rosh Hashana as a symbol for a sweet new year. We probably use apples rather than other fruits because of the verse above, and because they are available just about everywhere Jews have lived over the centuries, and they ripen around this time.

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Jewish Women Who Are Killin' it !

These ladies of the tribe are leaving the rest behind as leaders and role models in their professions. Some are household names, others you may not have heard of, but all are hugely influential people.

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English Words You Didn't Know Were Really Hebrew

Everyone knows English is a language cobbled together from French, German and Old English, but did you know that Hebrew has also played its part in the development of English? Here are some words you might not know have Hebrew roots:

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Tisha B'Av - Why You Should Care

One of the most difficult, profound and ignored days on the Jewish calendar falls this Sunday - Tisha B'Av (the Ninth of the Jewish month of Av). Outside of the Orthodox ciommunity Tisha B'Av rarely gets a mention and I'd guess that for the majority of Jews, it will once again come and go almost unnoticed, which is really sad, because no other date in the Jewish calendar (other than perhaps Passover) has had such a profound impact on the Jewish people, one that is still felt to this day - you know the expression "whatever doesn't break us, makes us stronger"? Well that's Tisha B'Av.

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Gun Control: Jewish Thoughts on a Loaded Subject

The terrible events in Orlando over the weekend, and the horrific shooting attack in Tel Aviv a few days before that, have once again shocked America and the western world. Such incidents of terrorism on our own democratic soil invite profound soul-searching as to how we can prevent such evil from happening again. They have also brought the issue of gun control back into the headlines and presidential campaigns - there are those who would ban all guns, making it harder for terrorists, criminals  and homicidal nut jobs to get their hands on weapons, and there are those that believe ordinary citizens should have the right to bear arms, in order to defend themselves from the gun toting terrorists.

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Shavuot - Five Ideas For Making It a Meaningful Experience.

I've always felt a little sorry for Shavuot -  Succot and Pesach (Shavuot's partner festivals) are each a week long and full of cool stuff that Jews are commanded to either do (like eating Matzah, shaking a Lulav & Etrog, building and eating in a Succah and holding a Seder).

Poor old Shavuot is just one day (two outside Israel), and the Torah doesn't give it any particular commandments for us to do - in fact it is the only Jewish festival that doesn't even have a date, we are simply told that it is held 50 days after Pesach. Maybe that's the reason that for large parts of the Jewish world, Shavuot gets forgotten.

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Light My Fire - Lag BaOmer

Lag BaOmer (May 26, 2016) marks the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai - mystic and author of the Zohar, the seminal kabbalistic work that illuminates the divine light within every soul. The Omer itself is a 50-day period between the second day of Passover and the festival of Shavuot, when we celebrate the day the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

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