Hannukkah 5782 and Thanksgiving 2021 Together – Never Before Or Again

This year Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving, on 11/28/2021. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 19×7  = 133 years. Looking back, this is approximately correct – the last time it  would have happened is 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally  established by President Lincoln in 1863. So, it has never happened before.

Because the Jewish  calendar  is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000years . This means that while presently Hanukkah can be as early as 11/28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Hanukkah can be is 11/29.

Of course, if the Jewish calendar is never modified in any way, then it will slowly move forward through the Gregorian calendar, until it loops all the way back to where it is now. So, Hanukkah could again fall on Thursday, 11/28…in the year 79,811 * .

Calendars , not with standing we need an early Hanukkah this year.  It is a holiday that brings hope and good cheer to all of us regardless of our religious backgrounds.

So pass the cranberry sauce AND the latkes, please.

  • NOTE: The 79811 date is NOT accurate, but was meant to be tongue in cheek. Jewish law requires Passover to be in the Spring.  Therefore, the Jewish calendar will have to be adjusted long before it loops all the way around.
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Robert Benjamin, A Tribute : In Memory Of My Brother

Rabbi Nat Benjamin
One of the only images I have of Robert as a teenage

My brother Robert and I were close despite the ten year difference between us. As a child he displayed a great love of music, literature as well as a great aptitude for science and mathematics. He shared these with me as an older brother and teacher.  I find my love and aptitude for music was his gift to me. He took me everywhere: baseball, football and basketball games and to concerts and the opera.  My memories of our camaraderie are as vivid today as when I was eight years old.

 During his first year in college my brother Robert experienced what we now refer to as a nervous breakdown. He spent the remaining years of his life being treated for schizophrenia in hospitals and nursing homes. With mental illness parents do not know what to do to seek effective treatment and Robert’s condition worsened continually. As a child, I always grew up hoping that my older brother would return to a normal life with school, leading to an occupation and eventually a normal family life but such was not meant to be.  As years went by I visited him weekly in assorted nursing homes and psychiatric facilities. Robert passed away in April at the age of eighty four.  My strongest regret is that he had an unhappy life. But when I think of my childhood years I remember how much he gave me.

Rabbi Nat Benjamin
Celebrating Robert’s Birthday in 2018


Purim Reflections

Throughout the entire story of Purim in the Megillah, God is not mentioned once. But since this is a story about God miraculously saving the Jewish community of Persia, why is the almighty left out of the story entirely ?
The response to this question are many which our sages have pondered over. Many of the great Jewish commentators had this same question and discussed this issue at length over time and circumstance.
If we compare the story of Purim with that of our other holidays it is clear that the plot featuring Esther, Mordechai and Haman present us with no new miracles. No seas split, no mass revelation, no dwelling in clouds for forty years, and no overcoming an enemy one hundred times our size using guerrilla warfare. What did happen was that a lot of people were in the right place at the right time to provide just the political clout necessary when needed. All these events were deliberately orchestrated from above by the Almighty who stood behind a stage, so to speak.—
In a sense Purim is a holiday of masks. The costumes conceal one’s real identity, just like the dough of the hamantash covers the fruit filling, the Megillah conceals God’s name and says nothing of divine intervention.
Although Purim and the characters portrayed in the story are often presented in a lighthearted narrative, the seriousness of hatred and anti-Semitism are easily stirred up. Even today we see it re emerging throughout the world and we must respond with vigilance.

Please join us for our Purim Megillah reading on Wednesday March 20th at the Alpine Community House, 5 Old Dock Road, Alpine, N.J.07620 at 4:00 pm. You are welcome to wear masks and costumes. Hamantaschen will be served.

Purim at Chavurah Beth Shalom

80 Years Ago Today , Never Forget, Never Again

(photograph from Yad Vashem, https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/kristallnacht/index.asp

Today we remember.

The name Kristallnacht literally means ” Night of the Crystal” and derives from the shards of glass broken that were the remnants of the homes, stores, buildings and synagogues of Jewish people. The dark days of 1938 ( November 9th and 10th) when homes , businesses and synagogues of German Jewry and Austrian Jewry were vandalized , attacked, smashed, looted and burned.

Today marks the 80th anniversary of horrific violence against Jews throughout Germany and Austria. Jews were assaulted, injured and killed. Jewish men were arrested and deported to Sachsenhausen, Dachau and Buchenwald.

91 Jews were murdered. Thousands more were victims of violence and torture.

Over 1,000 synagogues were burned. They burned synagogues and everything within. gold edged Torah Scrolls, leather bound Prayer Books, Bibles and so many other artifacts.

7,000 Jewish businesses and stores were destroyed.

Cemeteries, hospitals, schools and homes were looted and destroyed.

Commercial establishments owned by Jews were not allowed to reopen.

Over 30,000 men were sent to concentration camps.

Nazis and their collaborators unleashed a planned and coordinated attack on Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues across Germany, Austria and Nazi controlled territories. Governments and municipalities unleashed these atrocities.

All assets were confiscated. Bank accounts, jewelry and all possessions of value. Women and men were allowed to keep a wedding ring and a watch.

Afterwards, Jews were charged for the damage done to property by Nazis.

Jews were barred from a majority of publics places including museums, parks, swimming pools and were expelled from public schools.

There were countless suicides committed by Jews who felt lost in desperation.

There is hardly a German Jewish family on the world who has not suffered loss from this atrocity.

The world watched in silence.

It was the horrific escalation from previous verbal and political attacks on Jews to physical violence and murder that marked Kristallnacht.

Elie Wiesel: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness” .

When we light Shabbat candles tonight we welcome in the light and hope of Shabbat. This year and every year we have to remember and never forget.

This is just too important a story not to share with all generations. We must make sure this never happens again.

Never forget. Never forgive. Never again.

Mazel Tov To Alexandra and Michael Naclerio

New Jersey RabbiSo very honored to have had the privilege to officiate the wedding of Michael Naclerio and Alexandra Abend this past weekend.

Wishing you both a lifetime of happiness and joy.

The setting of the Hamilton Farm Golf & Country Club provided a beautiful stage for this magical day!

Wishing a Mazel Tov to Michael and Alexandra Naclerio as you begin your journey together.

A special Mazel Tov to parents, Lori & Paul Abend and Judy & Peter Naclerio.

New Jersey Rabbi