Thankfully, the fire in Carmel which seems to under control ( Put out & Shimon Peres said that it demonstrates that Jews and Arabs share same fate & Thanks US! and now we should concentrate on helping with our dollars: #CarmelFire Donate to help – reforest:; rebuild communities: and general assistance:

So, tonight is the fifth night of Hanukkah and it’s a great night to have a tzedakah theme.  According to the way the Jewish calendar falls, the fifth night can never fall on Shabbat.  Thus, it’s a perfect night to handle money.  Each year on the fifth night, we collect all the pushkes (tzedakah/charity) boxes from around our home (we try to have one in every room) and empty them.  It’s a fun exercise to count all the money we have collected and add it up – if you have elementary school aged children, all the better).  Then we discuss where we will donate the money and decide as a family.  Normally, we like to donate to a local Jewish charity (our shul, CJP, our school, camp, JFCS, Family Table, etc.) an Israeli charity (Masorti, JNF, Magen David Adom, Friends of the IDF, Hazon, etc.) and an organization that helps those who are not Jewish, especially a hunger organization like Mazon.  Given the fire in Israel this year, I have a feeling we will be moved in that direction (JNF, Masorti, CJP).  Opening the boxes is fun, counting can be as well and the rich conversations about helping others top it all off!

Finally, my favorite Youtube video of this Hanukkah has to be the Maccabeats (Yeshiva University’s all-male a cappela singing group) Hanukkah remake of the pop song Dynamite.  Their lyrics are great, the video is clever and the production values are excellent.  Watch it here:

As of this afternoon, this video has almost 2 million hits!  This song is based on the Taio Cruz song Dynamite which is fun and has been played at many parties this year.  His video is problematic and is replete with half-naked women who strut around the screen.  The song was then remade into an a capella song by Michael Thompson who demonstrates how he can make all the sounds of the song with his voice.  See it here:

The Maccabeats then redid his version (various singers in boxes around the screen Brady Bunch style) with the Hanukkah story and additional footage.  My kids and I have listened to the Maccabeats awesome version about 50 times, but my kids wondered why there are no women in it?  As an Orthodox institution, women are not allowed to sing out loud because of “kol ishah,” the voice of a woman is too sexy for a man to handle.

So, here we have it: on one end of the spectrum, we have an offensive video that objectifies women and on the other end, we have no women allowed.  It’s too bad we cannot find some good music (Hanukkah or otherwise) that has a more moderate, centrist approach?

Come to think of it – we need more of that middle-of-the-road approach to politics, religion, life….

May tonight’s Hanukkah flames illuminate that path!