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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  (rabbi@adathisraelsf.org) has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


Chanuka and Thanksgiving

As I'm sure you are aware, next week we will be experiencing an unusual convergence of events – the overlap of Chanuka and Thanksgiving. The last time that happened was in 1888 (common era) and the next time will not be until the year 79,811! In my opinion, there is an interesting connection between these two holidays. Chanuka is not just about the military victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Greek-Syrians but also, and more importantly, the victory of G-d based values verses the human based values. The Greeks and their assimilated Jewish supporters sought to disconnect the Jewish people from their G-d based way of life and replace it with their man made Hellenistic culture. Had they been successful, the Jewish people would have ended up like many other ancient peoples – in the dustbin of history. 
Thanksgiving represents a similar concept. The purpose of Thanksgiving, as explained by President Lincoln in his 1863 Proclamation of Thanksgiving, is to recognize that the tremendous success enjoyed by America is due to divine benevolence. He wrote: "No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.....observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." The acknowledgment of G-d's place in our culture is essential for the moral and ethical well being of our society. For, as the famous Russian author Dostoevsky said, "where there is no G-d, all is permitted."

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