Hope in History: A Closer Look at Ma’zor Tzu

Photograph of Tamar Marvin
by Tamar Marvin, PhD
posted on December 3, 2018
Of the rich tradition of piyyut—liturgical poetry—composed for Hanukkah, today two are customarily used: Ha-Nerot Hallalu and Ma’oz Tzur, which are sung after lighting the Hanukkah candles. The first, Ha-Nerot Hallalu, is cited in Massekhet Soferim and reappears later in the medieval period, when Maharam of Rothenberg mentions it again. Reflecting rabbinic discussions of the mitzvah of the Hanukkah candles, this straightforward hymn recalls the miraculous events, explains that the candles’ light is not for practical use, and expresses gratitude. Read more...

They Too Were Part of the Miracle

Headshot of Gail Labovitz
by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD
posted on December 6, 2015
Question: What is the most dangerous object a person can bring to the Kotel, the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem? If that person is female, then apparently the answer is ritual objects: a tallit, a Torah scroll, and most recently, a Hanukah menorah. Read more...

A Hanukah Gift from my Grandparents

Headshot of Gail Labovitz
by Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD
posted on December 15, 2012
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Maftir Reading
I never knew my paternal grandfather, Rabbi Jerome Labovitz (Jewish Theological Seminary, rabbinic class of 1931), who died at age 50, when my father was only 17 years old. But I am fortunate to have received, through my grandmother, nee Leah Gittel Siegel (who was very much in my life and lived into her 90's), a number of books that were his and theirs. Among these books is one with the simple title "Hanukkah," a collection compiled and edited by Emily Solis-Cohen in 1937; the copy I now possess is from the sixth imprint, in 1955. Read more...