Chanukah 2016
– Message with a Message

Submitted by member Sharron Elkouby

This year, as Santa’s sleigh takes flight*
The Jewish people get ready to light
The Chanukiah’s candle number one
And get together to have some fun.

We’ll eat latkes and doughnuts, and spin the dreidel,
And hand out gelt to each boychick and maydel.
Tinsel and trees are not our style:
We’re into oil that lasts quite awhile;

8 days, in fact, from a tiny drop:
Miraculous oil that just didn’t stop.
We’ll mark our fight against oppression,
For worshiping idols would give us depression.

We fought for the right to worship just One
And we didn’t give up until we’d won.
So with eight bright nights of candlelight
We remember our Maccabees’ tireless fight

And their brave commitment to making things right.
Plus the beautiful temple, made shiny and bright.
And just a reminder, when things look bleak
Do we cower in fear? Are we hopeless and meek?

No way! No never! We’re ­ALL MACCABEES!
For we’ll always fight for our right to be free.
May you always have light, and laughter and love,
And blessings unending from the One Above.

*or so they say

Get your Gelt In!

A friendly reminder from Lawrence Janit

Tax receipts will be issued and mailed out for all qualifying payments received by December 31st, 2016. If you have an outstanding balance, please contact me to arrange payment prior to this date. I can be reached by email or (416) 782 4495 ext. 33.

Please be reminded that the shul office will be closed between December 25th and January 3rd.

Rabbi Yossi’s
8 Lights of Chanukah

Jews have always marked significant events in our annual calendar. Instead of simply remembering the dates, we find ways to make the ancient occurrences relevant, meaningful, and joyous in our modern lives.

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“Joil” is a contraction of the words ‘joy’ and ‘oil’. It really is self explanatory – who doesn’t want to eat foods cooked, baked, or fried in oil?

At Chanukah, we also remember the ancient lights in the Temple that burned pure olive oil, and the miracle of a single day’s oil lasting for eight full days.

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Chanukah is fundamentally a time in which we celebrate miracles. The miracle many celebrate is the tiny quantity of oil that was found after the Temple was destroyed, which allowed the menorah to be lit for eight days. This story teaches us that even when all hope seems lost, believe in the impossible.

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It takes great courage to stand up for your beliefs. We are always aware of those ordinary people who turn into heroes when they refused to allow their values to be trampled by outsiders. This is a story of Chanukah, but the definition of courage remains today! Who are the heroes in your life?

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There are many special songs and poems written for Chanukah – some of them seem somewhat militaristic, but let us use victory to offer hope that the oppressed of the world who live in fear can someday be free, and live comfortably in the land and place of their choosing.

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While we have homes full of light and warmth, family and food, there are many who have very little of these basic human necessities. As we light the menorah, we consider how we can light up the darkness for those who have much less than we do.

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Chanukah is a Hebrew word which means ‘renewal’ or ‘inauguration’. Just as the Temple of old was renewed, we use this opportunity to renew connection with family, friends, and the warmth of togetherness.

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The centre of Jewish life is the home. While lighting menorahs publicly is meaningful, it does not replace the value of family events in small units, coming together and lighting up individual homes with the glow of togetherness.

[vc_tta_accordion style="flat" color="green" c_align="center" c_icon="chevron" active_section="0" no_fill="true" collapsible_all="true"][vc_tta_section i_icon_fontawesome="fa fa-shopping-cart" title="Ingredients" tab_id="1480964436083-a3be8804-2848" add_icon="true"][vc_column_text]1 (10 count) package of pre-made refrigerated biscuits
24 oz canola oil (for frying)
¼ cup raspberry jelly or jam (or feel free to use your favorite flavour)
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section i_icon_fontawesome="fa fa-list-ul" title="Directions" tab_id="1480964436085-b00afd95-764b" add_icon="true"][vc_column_text]
  1. Separate biscuits and flatten them so diameter is about 4 inches.
  2. Place about a teaspoon of jelly or jam in the center of each biscuit. Bring the edges together to form a ball. Pinch it closed at the top to seal in the filling.
  3. When all 10 ponchik are ready, pour the oil in a saucepan and bring to 350 degrees F. While waiting for the oil to reach temperature, pour sugar and cinnamon onto a plate.
  4. When oil is ready, use a slotted spoon to lower ponchik into oil. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until the dough is cooked through and golden brown.
  5. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and place on plate with cinnamon sugar. Gently roll the ponchik to coat. Be careful, ponchik will be hot.

We love our new Chanukah sweaters! Thanks, Rabbi Yo!

Lighting a Spark

Chanukah greetings from our President, Candace Vogel 
As you’re probably aware by now, Chanukah coincides with that other December holiday this year. I must admit that when our kids were small I dreaded this calendar confluence. It wasn’t easy trying to sell the virtues of dreidels and latkes, but direct competition with trees, tinsel, and tons of toys made it that much harder. One year my eldest wore me down and negotiated a string of blue and white lights in our front window- but only for the 8 days of Chanukah.

(She’s on her way to becoming a lawyer now).

We made our own candles and lit them together, often after sundown, when we got home after work, practices, or Hebrew School.
When they were teenagers the holiday provided a great opportunity to talk about social justice and giving back. We chose a worthy cause or charity and donated in honour of the kids, sharing with them why it “spoke” to us. I sent the kids chanukiyot, candles, and lots of baked goods to share with their friends at university. With (slightly) longer attention spans, we added Ma O’Tzur to our candle-lighting routine and whoever was home joined us to light the candles, say the blessings, and sing a round before heading off to someplace else.
One year, Chanukah was particularly early. Our girls were in the same city but at different schools. They surprised me with a photo of them lighting the candles together. I couldn’t help but feel proud and realize that all of those efforts to make Chanukah special- and different from other holidays- were worth it. As parents we hope to light a spark in the hearts and minds of our children; we can only hope that the flame catches.
Wishing you the light and joy of the holiday,

6 Ways to Make Chanukah Meaningful for your Kids

Suggestions from Alley Dezenhouse Kelner

1. Be the Light.
Give back: find a local charity and make positive change by donating your time.
2. Bask in the Glow.
The act of watching the candle burn is a simple but powerful way to connect with our past, while allowing family to connect in the present.
3. Practice Giving.
Challenge your kids to fill a box with 8 toys they have outgrown and donate to a local shelter.
4. Practice Gratitude.
Challenge your kids to come up with 8 things they are grateful for.
5. Think about Experiential Gifts.
Consider gifting experiences rather than things; a trip, tickets, outing or day time adventure that you can do as a family.
6. Make Memories with Traditions.
Make memories with traditions that are conventional (making latkes, singing Maoz Tzur) or non-conventional (making gingerbread Chanukah houses, hanging Chanukah lights).

And Heaven and Nature Sing!

A note on holiday music from Cantor Ben

As a child I can remember being somewhat envious of my Christian friends in December, who all seemed to have beautifully decorated trees in their homes and an endless supply of cookies and flowing hot chocolate.  All I got was deep-fried potato pancakes that made me reach for antacid!
Of course I jest, as I loved having my family gather around the dining room table as we each lit our menorahs, sang in harmony the blessings and Maoz Tzur, and then feasted on latkes with apple sauce and sour cream.
A Simple YouTube search reveals that there is really only one universally accepted melody for Maoz Tzur for Ashkenazi Jews. Now that snow has fallen (November 21st), Christmas carols have started playing at the malls and on the radio. Guess what I noticed? A strong similarity in the melody between Maoz Tzur and the Christmas Carol “Joy to the World”! Maoz Tzur is said to have been written in the 13th Century, while the song “Joy to the World” was not written until the 18th century.
Check out both YouTube links: Maoz Tzur and Joy to the World. Listen for yourselves and let me know what you think. In particular, listen in Maoz Tzur to the words; “Az Egmor Beshir Mizmor” (33 seconds in)  and in Joy to the World, “…and Heaven and nature sing”.
Happy Chanukah,
Cantor Ben and Karen

A Chanukah Treat – “Not your Latke!”

Submitted by Arlene Silver

“Polish ponchik are fried doughnuts stuffed with jelly; Eastern European Jews brought these with them as they moved to Israel. This quick and easy recipe allows anyone to celebrate Chanukah with homemade jelly doughnuts.
Sufganiyot, aka jelly doughnuts, are Israel’s Chanukah food of choice. Most people think that latkes were the traditional Chanukah food around the world, but no, latkes are actually an American favourite, while sufganiyot are more popular in Israel.
Because Chanukah officially celebrates the “miracle of oil” during the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was desecrated by the Seleucid* imperial army, fried foods are a common way to commemorate the holiday. The delicacies range from region to region – fried apple fritters, fried dough dipped in honey, and, of course, fried potato pancakes and deep-fried jelly doughnuts are all traditional Chanukah fare.
In a piece for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jewish cookbook author Gil Marks** explains that sufganiyot actually originated in Poland. The Jewish community there adopted a local preserve-filled doughnut, the paczki, into their food traditions, which they renamed the ponchik. The ponchik eventually made its way to Israel, where it became known as sufganiyot.”

*a dynasty ruling over Syria and a great part of western Asia from 312 to 64 BC. Its capital was at Antioch.

**Gilbert Stanley Marks was an American food writer and historian who published five cookbooks on the subject of Jewish food, and was the founding editor of Kosher Gourmet magazine.

Celebreight with Us!

Sunday December 18th, 11:00 am

Join your Beth Torah HebrewsCool, Clergy and friends for our annual Chanukah celebration.

Chanukah-themed games, bouncy house, dreidel showdown, and screening of Eight Crazy Nights.

Giant menorahs! Traditional foods! Incredible raffle prizes, including box seats at an upcoming Raptors game.

Featuring Richard Ungar’s interactive storytelling of his new book, Yitzi and the Giant Menorah. 

We hope to see you here!
There is limited space and RSVP’s are required for admittance. Don’t miss your opportunity – to sign up today, please click here.