The darkness of the whole world cannot swallow the glowing of a candle.
- Robert Altinger
Hanukkah is celebrated by the Jewish community all around the world. In fact, it’s been part of their holiday celebration since 200 B.C. when a military and political victory allowed them to keep practicing their religions and traditions. Here’s a list of things you need to know about the Jewish celebration that takes place from Dec. 12 to Dec. 20.
The word Hanukkah translates into dedication and is affectionately known as the festival of lights. There’s also 16 different ways to spell the name of the holiday, so don’t stress out when autocorrect tells you you’re doing it wrong.
The holiday marks the remembrance of when the Maccabees overthrew the Syrian-Greeks, a political group that destroyed the Jewish temple and outlawed Jewish practices. After their victory, they only had enough oil to light the lamps of their temple for one day, but the oil burned for eight days.
Latkes, also known as potato pancakes are one delicious way jews celebrate the festival of lights. Latkes are made by molding a mixture of potatoes, eggs, shallots and spices into a thin pancake. Latkes are then fried in oil and sometimes served with a side of sour cream, apple sauce and chives.
During the Jewish celebration, the menorah represents the way divine light has spilled out into the world. The nine-branch menorahs that are traditionally used today are very different from the one used in the original Maccabee temple, but still share the intention of sharing light with the world. The Shamash is the person responsible for lighting the candles.
While the festival of lights is celebrated by the majority of jews, other holidays are considered more important. Yom Kippur, also known is the day of atonement marks the time of year when Jews fast, ask for repentance and spend their time in prayer. Passover is another major Jewish celebration that marks a the celebration of freedom from Egypt.
Chances are if you're on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media, you've been seeing #MeToo all over the place. CNN has a longer explanation as to why it's trending, but the simple story is that actor and social celebrity Alyssa Milano started a firestorm when she tweeted asking any woman who'd been sexually assaulted or harassed to simply reply with "Me Too".
This got picked up and replied to by dozens of famous women - and men - and thousands more regular people (and it's been speculated that there are likely many more who still don't feel like they can safely speak out). To many, it was illuminating to see the sheer amount of women who'd been affected by sexual assault and harassment during their lives (stats from RAINN here). And really, we can all benefit from an open discussion about problems in our society.
What do you think about #MeToo trending and what that says about our world? How about the response of posting #IWill, and then stating what specifically you plan to do to combat the problem?
Image courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.
It's been a good weekend for sisterhood, for exercising one's right to free speech, and for seeing democracy in action. Unless you've been living under a rock, there's no way you missed all the coverage of the women's marches being held in the United States and around the world this weekend. Over three million women marched to show Donald Trump and his supporters they are resisting his agenda and the potential erosion of women's rights.
Some seriously famous names lent their support and participated, including Madonna, Cher, Scarlet Johansson, Ashley Judd, and America Ferrera along with activists Gloria Steinem, Michael Moore, and Cecile Richards. And of course, a number of elected officials showed up to march and address their constituents in their home states or in Washington, D.C.
Of course, the marches were clearly politically motivated, but the amazing sisterhood and spirit of empowerment extended far beyond that even though there were some incredibly important issues being championed or protested.
What's more, women of all ages, races, orientations, and creeds showed up to march for what they believed in - and perhaps more importantly, to show their strong opposition to the 45th president of the United States.
The marches had an overarching purpose of supporting women's rights and served as a protest against Trump, Pence, and their ideologies and potential future policies, so there was definitely some healthy angry and righteous feminist rage. That said, there was also an undeniably positive vibe surrounding the marches. It was an atmosphere of teamwork, solidarity and the sisterhood working together for a common and worthy cause.
We tip our (hot pink) hats to the women who organized, led, and participated in the marches.
The Women' Forum team attended marches around the country - from D.C. to Chicago to Denver to L.A., we stood up and marched for women's rights, for the sisterhood, and for positive progress and a better future. In addition, there were marches around the world in places as far flung as New Zealand and Sweden. There was even a small march on a ship in Antartica!
Did you march? We want to see your pictures and hear your stories - join on us Facebook and share your thoughts, experiences, and images.
June is Pride Month, also known as the month that we celebrate the glorious diversity of love and humankind in general.
For adults, it's a little easier to celebrate - we can show solidarity by wearing rainbow pins, jewelry, and other rainbow touches, go to the parades, give to charities, and pretty much anything else we want.
But for kids, it's a little different. Whether or not your family has a more personal connection to the LGBTQ+ community or not, it can be a good idea to to talk to them about Pride Month, why it is celebrated, and depending on their ages, even what all the rainbows mean!
It can all start with a conversation about the LGBTQ+ community, their history, and what it all means, if your kid is old enough to be asking questions. No need to go into more detail than that.
Kids with a more personal connection to the cause (friends or relatives who are part of the community, or perhaps older kids who are starting to question themselves) could visit a pride parade (most of them are fairly tame, at least during the earlier parts of the celebration). Donating to nonprofits and other organizations that support the community is a great idea as well!
Being able to talk to your kids about these issues in somewhat objective or reasonable manner no matter what you personally is a sign of great parenting. Even if you have religious objections to various aspects of this world and the legislation surrounding, having an honest, open, and non-inflammatory conversation around the subjects will go a long way towards raising your kids to be thoughtful adults who understand the world around them.
Regardless of your connection to the LGBTQ+ community, this is the month to wear a rainbow with pride. After all, everyone deserves the same rights and same human dignity, and showing support for a marginalized community and their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the most positive thing that you can do.
It's the end of an era and whether you are hopeful or anxious about the future with America's incoming 45th president, there's no denying that President Barack Obama's two terms have been a time of hope, change, positivity, and incredible optimism for many Americans.
But perhaps what stands out most at this moment in time is not just Barack Obama's respect for office and for the American people - it's his ability to be humble. At a time when we should be thanking him (and we certainly are), his final letter and address as president were all about thanking the people for the honor and opportunity to serve as their president.
Under Barack Obama, we had affordable healthcare on a mass scale the likes of which America had never before seen. We legalized same sex marriage nationwide. We got Bin Laden. Our troops came home from Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama signed the Recovery Act and created millions of jobs, effectively kick-starting the end of a recession.
We had major tax cuts. Obama signed the largest trade agreement ever. We finalized a major international climate change agreement. We could go on, but then this post would take up your whole day...but did we mention that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009?
And that might be the act of a great president - and a man with real class. And really, who else would write what is perhaps one of the most eloquent thank you notes ever written?
So let's all remember his words as our next president takes office...