Jewish group focuses on social issues for Hanukkah messages

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Members of conservative Jewish synagogues in North America will see something different on social media this Hanukkah: posts touting four fellow believers whose social activism could evoke memories of the original Hebrew activists who freed ancient Israel from influences pagan.

A new social media team from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism set up the online campaign within weeks, said Melanie Felsman, spokesperson for the denomination, one of the three main branches of Judaism in the United States. .

Those in the social media spotlight during the holidays are involved in refugee resettlement, equitable housing, system solutions for climate change, and inclusive Jewish education for students with diverse learning needs, a- she declared.

Chanukah, which begins Sunday evening, is celebrated for eight days to mark a miraculous batch of consecrated oil used in the Second Temple after the Maccabees revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE. Faced with a day’s supply of oil, used in a temple candelabra, the fuel lasted for eight days until a new batch could be ritually prepared.

The holiday, which is not recorded in the Hebrew Bible, is noted in other ancient sources, including the Mishnah, a record of Jewish oral traditions. By rebelling against pagan Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Maccabees defended religious freedom, according to many.

Ms Felsman said the miraculous nature of the holiday, in which Jews light a nine-branched candelabra called the Hanukkiah, inspired the social media effort.

“We were talking about doing something for Hanukkah other than just the traditional CEO message or a photo of candles,” she said. “We wanted to see if we could come up with something impactful that would run like a digital campaign. “

What the group “came up with were miracles and Chanukah triumphs,” Ms. Felsman said. “What we do is from November 29 to December 5, there are four different people that we profile, depending on their ‘miracles’.

“Four was [because] we went with the sides of the dreidel, ”she added, referring to a little spinning top that children play with during the holidays.

On the morning of November 29, Mira Mendick, Volunteer Coordinator for HIAS, founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in 1881, will be honored for helping resettle Afghan refugees in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ms. Felsman said. .

The next day, Kristin Gorin, who is a board member at her USCJ Synagogue in Richmond, Virginia, will be honored for her work lobbying for affordable housing funds in the state capital.

Andy Weissfeld, a rabbinical student in Philadelphia, is the subject of the Dec. 2 social media post. Mr. Weissfeld is campaigning for “climate action,” the USCJ said.

The latest recipient is Rebecca Redner, a Jewish special education educator in Brookline, Massachusetts, who helps students like “Gil” prepare for her Bar Mitzvah, using technology and her teaching skills.

Ms Redner told the organization that a high school experience as a Sunday school aide for children with disabilities sparked her interest in special education. “I loved the way my student constantly challenged me to be creative and think quickly,” she reportedly said.

the The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism claims it is “the largest network of conservative Jews in the world” and claims 1.35 million adherents in North America.

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