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Springboard Blog

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Adding some Jewish into your week: Making Hanukkah Modern

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Looking for a new way to think about Judaism this week? Here are some reflections on Hanukkah to add a modern perspective to the upcoming holiday this month.

When we think about Hanukkah, we often focus on the same major details of the story: Antiochus told the Jews that they could no longer observe their mitzvot or read from the Torah. Judah and the Maccabees rose up and fought against him. Upon winning the war, the Macabees restored the Temple and discovered that there was only enough oil to light the menorah, but a miracle occurred and the oil lasted for eight days. After years of repetitive Hanukkah discussions and programs, is there a way to make this year's Hanukkah experience feel fresh and different? I'm glad you asked! 

There are many unexplored questions in the version of the story above. What do you think the Maccabees' uprising looked like? In any conflict, difficult trade-offs must be made. Do you think that the Maccabees engaged in morally questionable activities in their fight to protect their religious freedom? How does the Maccabees' resistance compare to those who have engaged in different types of protests in world history? How does it compare to what's happening today? 

Whether you're a person engaging in your own struggle to find modern meaning in the Hanukkah story (see last week's blog post for more on the Jewish value of struggle), a teen or youth professional interested in creating a new Hannukkah program, this year, consider putting our heroes on trial.  

Taking the Maccabees to Court: The People vs. Maccabees 

  • Split into two sides: Prosecution and Defense.  

  • Have both sides consider leaders and movements throughout world history who protested those in power such as Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luthor King, Malala Yousafzai, the HaganahLechi, and Etzel from the early days of Israel, and more. Consider the different forms of protest people engaged in and how that impacted their cause.  

  • Have both sides call witnesses from throughout history to defend or attack the actions of the Maccabees.  

  • After the trial have participants vote on whether the Maccabees were justified in their decision to fight the Greeks or if they should have engaged in a more peaceful resistance 

We hope you enjoy this modern-day approach to a holiday classic. For more information on this program, or for help with other program ideas, get in touch with Daniel Warshawsky