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Jewish Holidays

Holiday Giving

Today is Christmas, perhaps the ultimate holiday for giving, and I am reflecting on the act, ritualization, and commercialization of "giving."

In the past few weeks the media has been abuzz with commentary on the virtue or the silliness of Giving Tuesday. Social media and a consortium of charities pumped up the idea of naming the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday “Giving Tuesday,” declaring it the beginning of “The Giving Season.”

Lauren Interviews Lauren

Singer-songwriter-humorist Lauren Mayer reflects on Hanukkah, Christmas, family, growing up a Jew in Orange County and how all this informs her own, artistic process. May you enjoy this in depth interview conducted by… herself.

What inspired you to write “Latkes, Shmatkes”?

Two years ago NPR did a program on Christmas music, and their expert was talking about how secular songs, like “Frosty The Snowman,” became classics, and then he said, “Some songs should never become classics, like this one”— and used an old recording of mine as an example. It was a novelty song I’d written and recorded years ago, “The Fruitcake That Ate New Jersey,” and when I wrote in to ask how they found it, they ended up interviewing me. I joked that now I was part of the great tradition of Jewish songwriters who create Christmas music, and I really should do a Chanukah album. Once I said it, I realized it could be a fun idea.

Keep the Spirit of Hanukkah Burning with Olive Oil Cake

Although Hanukkah is known as the festival of lights, I think a more fitting name would be the festival of fried foods. It’s the time of year during which people expect and want to find deep fried food on their plates and I’m more than happy to oblige. Although, as much as I love eating latkes and sufganiyot, there are moments where I need a break from all the fried foods. Yet in the spirit of the holiday I still want to eat a dish in which oil is a central component.

Accessing our Jewess Tools: Judaism’s Ancient Feminist Spiritual Tactics

How does the American Jewish woman navigate our male-dominated society in the twenty-first century? Jewish women have thousands of years of history to draw from to help make sense of and find our place. According to our ancestral Jewish tradition, women’s empowerment is central to bringing redemption for all humanity -- so let’s get to it!

Rosa Parks and Hanukkah: Why Ignorance Isn't Always Bliss

On the Thursday night before Hanukkah began, I attended an event called A Sip of Eser, an introductory session to the ten-part young adult learning program Eser (meaning 10) run by Hebrew College in nearby Newton, MA. Amidst the tumult of a Boston bar, and alongside several dozen people I had never met, I heard rabbinical student, Seth Wax, tell a Hanukkah story none of us had ever heard.

Hanukkah Has Its Advantages, Too!

Thanksgiving is over, meaning the few remaining stores with some discretion have put up their decorations (joining the vast majority who started in early November), and the holiday muzak is blaring everywhere – so it’s hard for Jews not to feel overwhelmed and outnumbered. Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday, so we aren’t really going to compete with giant electric menorahs on our front yards, and it’s highly unlikely that Lifetime will air a new series of “Heartfelt Hanukkah” made-for-TV movies. And it’s particularly hard for parents – our kids are singing carols in school, making ornaments out of popsicle sticks, and hearing about their friends who anticipate scoring major gift hauls. How do we help our kids, and ourselves, feel better about this imbalance?

Gorging Yourself on Cheap, Coin-Shaped Candy? You Are SO Better Than That

Chanukkah (or however the heck you spell it) is a time of lighting the menorah, recounting yet another story of the resilience of the Jewish people, and celebrating miracles both great and small. It’s also a time of eating things you wouldn’t dare touch the rest of the year, letting your standards slide, and finding yourself hung over on January 1st, loathing yourself as you struggle to button your jeans.

Don’t be that person.

Historic JOFA-Kolech Meeting of the Minds

Though the conclusion of Sukkot occurred earlier this week, our friends at JOFA co-manifested such a milestone event with such potential, far reaching effects, we wanted to share this happening

Experimental Fridays: Lady Gaga's Sukkot

There is a simple beauty to the holiday of Sukkot, perhaps because it is the chag (holiday) with the least meshugas (craziness). The Day of Atonement and the month of weighty reflection are behind us, the manic celebration of Simchas Torah lies ahead. Sukkot, often called The Festival of Ingathering, is unadorned, honest, at peace with itself.

And it reminds me of Lady Gaga.

Though I would not use the term “unadorned” to describe her inspired ensembles, she is unadorned when it comes to her character, honest when it comes to her spirit, at peace when it comes to her personhood. And she invites, nay demands, through her songs, performances, interviews, and her anti-bullying campaigns that others strive for the same.

What’s in a name? Finding Solidarity in a Young Jew’s Herstory

Yesterday, as Yom Kippur approached, social justice organizers and progressive Jews gathered in downtown Boston to not only "remember" often underseen and undervalued laborers but also to stand in solidarity with the current labor struggles of our day. Here is Erica Concors', one committed organizer's, powerful speech. 


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Holidays." (Viewed on November 30, 2015) <>.


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