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December 2017


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Written in Stone

How One Family Reclaimed its Jewish Heritage

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Hanukkah at the EAT Cafe
(Shireinu Members only)
Thursday, December 14 at 5:00 -- Early Bird Dinner
3820 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia PA       
(267) 292-2768
*More info below

Kabbalat Shabbat- Hanukkah Celebration
Friday, December 15 at 7:30 EVERYTHING STARTS
Hanukkah Candle Lighting, Singing, Eating, etc
White Elephant Dreidle Game  (see instructions below)
Barrack Hebrew Academy, Bryn Mawr
**More info below

Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, January 5
7:30 Shmooze, 8:00 Services
Barrack Hebrew Academy,Bryn Mawr

Shireinu News and Events:

*Hanukkah at the EAT cafe on Thursday Dec 14 at 5:00:  
We will be gathering for an "early bird dinner."  Patrons of the EAT cafe pay only what they can (Some cannot even make a donation).  The average meal would cost approximately $18.50 per person if paying at a conventional restaurant.  We are reserving 10 seats for Shireinu members.  We would love to see you and celebrate the third night of Hanukkah with this mitzvah.  Please give us a call at 610.581.0237 or email:, so that we can save you a seat! 
The EAT (Everyone At the Table) Café is a non-profit, pay-what-you-can café that nourishes, educates, and unites community in a welcoming environment. The EAT Café is a collaboration among Drexel's Center for Hunger-Free Communities, the Vetri Community Partnership, Drexel's Center for Hospitality and Sports Management, and the West Philadelphia community.   At EAT Café, we believe that everyone has a right to access healthy, hearty food with dignity. In Philadelphia, nearly 1 in 4 people are food insecure. We address food insecurity by providing nutritious, high quality meals to all who walk through our door. We serve three-course meals made from fresh ingredients, and our menu options change daily.

**Friday, December 15 at 7:30 Hanukkah Celebration:  
We will begin promptly at 7:30 with the lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah- please bring one along.  The celebration will include constant food, singing and a crazy
White Elephant Dreidle Game.   For the White Elephant Dreidle game, please bring at least 1 and up to 3 gifts for the game.  Gifts should be "used", or "regifted" items.  Please wrap all gifts. The gifts can be of no value e.g a pair of socks, or of more substantial value e.g. Aunt Gloria's vase that you always hated.  Please do not buy anything! We all have enough stuff that we can give something away.  Keep in mind that one person's ugly,  undesirable elephant is the next person's desired gift.  

Written In Stone:

As I was teaching a class this week to my camp directors I asked which is the most prominent symbol of Hanukkah.  Their response was the Menorah.  We see the Menorahs everywhere during the "Holiday season"  but the actual vision of the Menorah comes from the description in the book of exodus, where the directions for how to make the Lamp of the Temple were quite exact.  That Menorah was the original 7 branched menorah.  And we have a model of it in Rome as the slaves carried off the Menorah as found in the Arch of Titus, nearly 2,000 years old.
But the Menorah we use for Hanukkah doesn't have a description until nearly 350 years later than the Arch of Titus.  The Talmud describes the 9 branch candelabra, 8 stems with a major lighter known as the Shamash.  Of course, oil, pure olive oil, was to be used for this new symbol of the holiday of Hanukkah.  This symbol and ritual of lighting the menorah takes place nearly 400 years after the actual historical story of Judah  Maccabees and the battle for the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 165 BCE.  

To day, almost every Jewish home will have a menorah or Hanukiah to be lit for the eight days of Hanukkah.  As discussed in the Talmud,  we light the Menorah from left to right as we place the candles in the Menorah from right to left.  So each night we would light the newest candle first and Rabbi Hillel teaches that our joy is to increase each night.
The Hanukiah was to be placed outside or in a window to help light the way at this darkest time in our calendar.  At this season we remember the times our families gathered to light these lights, sing their prayers and songs, spin the dreidles and eat the latkes.   Have a joyous Hanukkah.

How One Family Reclaimed its Jewish Heritage
By Rabbi Billy Dreskin, 11/10/2017

Makom shelibi oheyv - sham raglai molikhot otee, a passage from the Mishnah, can be translated as, "The place that my heart holds dear, there my feet will bring me near." 

On a recent Shabbat, Gabe Fuschillo, became a bar mitzvah.

Olga Tenenbaum, Gabe's mom, emigrated from Ukraine in 1996. Reflecting on her family's earlier life, she presented a d'var Torah to Gabe in which she told him:  

Many years ago, when your grandfather Arkady was born, he was circumcised according to Jewish law on the eighth day after his birth. For carrying out religious rituals, his father was expelled from the Communist Party and was harassed so greatly at work, the family had to move hundreds of miles away to a different part of the country.  

Ultimately, Olga moved to America, followed by her sister and her parents. Knowing little about her Jewish heritage, which the Soviet Union had virtually erased, Olga began to educate herself. And now, many years later, with Olga's parents sitting by her side, they watched together as Gabe became the family's first bar mitzvah in a hundred years.

There was a second, profoundly moving dimension to the celebration. Gabe's dad, Michael Fuschillo, grew up here as a Christian. Upon marrying Olga, Michael supported her exploration of her Jewish roots, lovingly and selflessly participating in raising Jewish children.

When Michael presented his own d'var Torah to Gabe, he said, "Abraham followed God's Covenant and became the father of a nation. It's not so important that you set the world on fire but rather that you kindle love in people's hearts and become a force for good." I am awe-struck by the generous tenderness proffered by this non-Jewish dad, who holds open a door for his children to re-enter the timeline of Jewish history. He himself has become a powerful model and teacher of Jewish values in their lives.

Judaism is an incredibly beautiful and meaningful way of life. It offers a makom, a holy place in which we gather to affirm something that is exquisite and precious, a place where we treasure one another for the goodness we bring to our community. Olga's journey may have begun with her own curiosity, but others had to notice her, acknowledge the importance of her journey, and offer her companionship and guidance along the way. Michael may have been willing to hold open the door for his family's journey into Jewish living, but thank God others were there to hold open that very same door for him, so that he would feel welcomed and sustained in joining his family along the way.

Because people supported and encouraged Olga and Michael at every turn, Gabe and his younger brother, Max, will share a love for Jewish life that, having once been present in their family's earlier generations, is once again present in theirs. May we always hold open those doors. May we open them wide. And may we forever be privileged to witness the blessings that come through, as we welcome new feet to a place that our hearts hold dear.

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