Have the Courage to Dream This Hanukkah

“All human deeds begin with a dream, and dreams they shall become.”

– Theodor Herzl

azm-flyerFrom the Maccabees, to modern Zionist heroes, national pride and sovereignty has marked the path of Jewish history.

2017 will mark numerous significant Zionist Movement anniversaries. In the coming year, the modern liberation movement of the Jewish people celebrates the 120 anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War.

American Zionists played a major role in realizing these contemporary milestones, and continue to work on behalf of the people and nation of Israel. Our mission today is more heavily focused on building bridges of understanding and support between the global Jewish community and Israel.

As we begin the Hanukkah season, help us rededicate ourselves to our vital mission by making a generous year-end contribution. Please donate today.  We thank you for your support.  Happy Hanukkah

A Chanukah Message of Thanks

The coincidence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah has generated a great deal of conversation in the American Jewish community. It has even created a new holiday known as “Thanksgivukkah.” However, when we examine the themes of these two holidays more closely, we can see that they have much in common.

Thanksgiving is a unique American holiday in which all of us can participate. It is an opportunity to give thanks for the freedom of this country, for our ability to live as Jews in an open society even with all of its challenges, and for the special gifts with which we have been presented by the wider American society. It is appropriate for each of us to give thanks and not to take these gifts for granted.

Chanukah can also be seen as a time of Thanksgiving. Rabbi David Chaim HaLevy, a former Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, writes that the Al HaNissim prayer appears in the Amidah in the section of Thanksgiving. He states that this is most appropriate, for on Chanukah we should give thanks not only for the victory of the Maccabees in ancient times, but also for its continuing message of spiritual and physical freedom for which we have fought and for which all nations crave. He reminds us, after the birth of the State of Israel, never to take this occurrence for granted.

We are privileged to live in a land of freedom and, at the same time, to express our solidarity with the State of Israel. Like the Maccabees of old, the people of Israel have stood up to tremendous physical and spiritual challenges. Israel remains for us not only a homeland, but also a beacon of light in a tumultuous Middle East.

As we light our Chanukah candles, as we sit down at our Thanksgiving tables, let us recognize not only our gratitude for the past, but also our dedication to making sure that the American dream and the Zionist dream shall live forever.

 

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz

Chanukah: Honoring Zionist Women

HONORING WOMEN OF ZIONISM

As we gather with our friends and family to light the Chanukah candles and our homes fill with light, please take a moment to reflect upon the essential and uncompromising contributions of women who are the Lights of Jewish history, the Zionist movement and the State Israel.

The word Zionism has many meanings and faces. Since Israel’s establishment, Zionism continues to contribute to the betterment of the world as a whole. This Chanukah, we honor women whose achievements have made everlasting impacts on Israel and the world. We dedicate the following Zionist blessings to these women who will always be considered lights unto the nations.

For each night of Chanukah, we offer an additional Zionist blessing to be recited before or after the traditional blessing. The blessings are dedicated to the women who embody Zionist values and their life accomplishments.

We encourage you to broaden your knowledge and read more about these inspiring women.  To assist you, we have created a linked page with a brief bio of each highlighted woman and have provided additional sources offering more information.

First night:
As we light the first Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the role of women in Jewish and Zionist leadership, an inspiring and prominent role where women, since the days of Devorah the prophetess, have led the Jewish people. Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Golda Meir who was an outstanding figure in the founding generation of the Zionist movement  Golda served as the Prime Minister of Israel from 1969-1974.

Second Night:
As we light the second Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the unique contribution of women in the field of social justice, Tikkun Olam and strengthening Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state, a field where women played an invaluable part throughout Jewish history. Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Dorit Beinisch, the first woman appointed as Israel’s Chief Justice, who, throughout her life and especially during her tenure in her current position as President of Israel’s Supreme Court, fights the battle of equality for those considered weak and different in Israeli society, thereby strengthening the character of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state.

Third Night:
As we light the third Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the unique contribution of women in the various fields of culture in Israel. Since the days of Miriam the Prophetess until today, women built, promoted, educated and contributed to the creation of Israeli culture, and are the backbone of the dance, theater, art, and film industries, as well as others.  Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Baroness Bethsabee de Rothschild in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Israeli dance by establishing the Bat-Sheva Dance Company.  Today, the dance troupe performs on world renowned stages. For this, the Baroness was awarded the Israel Prize for her unique contribution to Israel’s Society.

Fourth Night:
As we light the fourth Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the unique contribution of women to the revival and development of the Hebrew language. Throughout history, the Hebrew language has been central to the lives of Jewish women. In the time of the revival of the Hebrew language, women continued to nurture and promote it. Tonight we will dedicate our blessing to Rachel the Poet, one of Israel’s national poets. Throughout her life, she combined living as a pioneer on a Kibbutz in the Galilee, with writing Hebrew poetry which describes the magical landscape of the land of Israel.  Even today, Rachel’s poems are still considered to be  some of the most popular works in Israeli poetry.

Fifth Night:
As we light the fifth Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the role of women in the field of Aliyah, one of the core missions of the Zionist enterprise. Since the days of the first female pioneers and through the women volunteers in Israel’s absorption centers today, the warm hearts of women have encouraged and helped many new Olim overcome the  challenges they face when moving to a new country.  Tonight we  dedicate our blessing to Recha Frier, the founder of Aliyaht Hano’ar (The Youth Aliyah organization). This project has helped many thousands of Olim throughout the years of the Zionist movement with their absorption in the land of Israel. For this, Recha  was awarded the Israel Prize for her unique contribution to Israel’s society.

Sixth Night:
As we light the sixth Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the unique contribution of women in the fields of science and technology, fields where women have contributed to Israel’s development and strengthened Israel’s position as one of the world’s leading countries in these industries. Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Ada Yonath, one of the world’s foremost researchers in the in the field of Chemistry. Yonath was the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize.  Through her accomplishments, she inspires young female Israeli researchers to continue their important research in the many areas of science and technology.

Seventh Night:
As we light the seventh Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the role of women in the field of medicine, a field where, throughout Jewish and Zionist history, women worked tirelessly to improve and save lives of many. Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Henrietta Szold, the founder of  the Women’s Zionist Organization “Hadassah”. Upon Henrietta’s vision, this organization continues to build hospitals and medical centers throughout Israel, and provides top quality medical care to any person regardless of religion, race and gender affiliation. This year, we celebrate a hundred and fifty years since Henrietta’s birth.

Eighth Night:
As we light the eighth Chanukah candle, we dedicate this blessing for shalom, peace and a better future for the world, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. As we have learned, women have always been present and were often recognized for their contributions to Jewish history, the Zionist enterprise, and the State of Israel.  Let’s join together in this  blessing and hope that this important role played by women will continue to illuminate the Jewish future for peace and the continuation of the successful existence of the State of Israel.

Chanukah

Chanukah at the AZM


AZM wishes you and your family a Hanukkah filled with happiness and peace.
By lighting the Chanukah candles, you are united not only with family and friends with whom you share the special moment, but also with Jews around the world also celebrating the Festival of Lights. This Chanukah, take time to reflect on the power of this connection and our responsibility to each other, especially to those who place themselves in harm’s way to protect our nation and its people.

Chanukah Heroes

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Chanukah is the Holiday of Light. As you gather with your friends and family to light the Chanukah candles, take a moment to reflect on the heroes who are the Lights of Israel – and what we can learn from their Jewish and Zionist values.

A Zionist Chanukah

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Each night, have in your thoughts a different aspect of Zionism which has built the State of Israel into the nation it is today and which will continue as its foundation into the future.

Remember the Soldiers

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This Chanukah, AZM calls upon Jews to remember Israel’s abducted soldiers. Each night, as you kindle the Hanukkah candles, we ask you to think about a different soldier. AZM has provided a paragraph about each for you to read aloud. We urge you also to share the concept and the materials with your family and friends.

While you are shopping for holiday gifts, please consider giving dogtags engraved with the abducted soldiers’ names and other Zionist gifts available here.