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Question: Why do we need to use a candle - the Shamash (helper) candle - when we can just as easily use a match to light the Menorah?It has to do with the "Way of the Long Pole."Some background: Back in Biblical times, in the outer chamber of the ancient Jerusalem Temple, the Menorah stood in a special area called the heichal (sanctuary). The Menorah was a five-foot, seven branched candelabra of pure gold. Every morning, a kohen (priest, member of the Israelite clergy) filled the menorah's lamps with the purest olive oil; in the afternoon, he would climb a three-step foot-ladder to kindle...

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by Marc Rosenstein(Originally published in Ten Minutes of Torah and Galilee Diary)

Thus said the Lord: Again there shall be heard in this place, which you say is ruined, without man or beast - in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man, without inhabitants, without beast - the sound of mirth and gladness... -Jeremiah 33:10-11

So there I was on the train from Tel Aviv, coming home to the Galilee, on a Tuesday evening after rush hour...

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8 Blogs for 8 Nights of HanukkahBlog #1: Oil and the Secret of the JewQuestion: Why did Antiochus' army ruin all the oil in the Jerusalem Temple?When Antiochus' Assyrian-Greeks entered the Jerusalem Temple, they contaminated all the oils that were in the Temple. One would expect them to plunder the Temple's gold and silver, the precious stones, as is the custom of warriors -- yet the Talmud makes no mention of this type of pillaging. What possessed the Assyrian-Greeks to single-mindedly go about desecrating the oil, and with such thoroughness that it was only through a miracle that one jug...

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by Marc Rosenstein(Originally published in Ten Minutes of Torah and Galilee Diary)

I have indeed removed them far among nations and have scattered them among thecountries and I have become to them a diminished sanctity [or small sanctuary]in the countries whither they have gone... -Ezekiel 11:16

Rabbi Isaac says "a small sanctuary" refers tosynagogues and houses of study... -Babylonian Talmud Tractate Megilah 29a

One of the most interesting challenges facing us as we think about...

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Naomi Abelson is a Social Action Specialist for the Union for Reform Judaism.

For the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to meet with Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ) rabbis, congregational presidents, board members, youth and social action committees in Australia and New Zealand to discuss congregational social activism and Nothing But Nets. And what an incredible experience it has been -- both personally and professionally!

Through presentations, meetings and workshops, UPJ leadership learned...

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