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From the Web Master

A Modern

Chanukah Miracle?

One night this past week, we joined our sons and grandsons in lighting the  Chanukah candles. A few years ago, this would have been impossible because one son lives in Seattle, the other is in Portugal. This year it required a bit of schedule rearrangement because our three families are separated by nine time zones. But it worked.

The same technology that allows NJC members to attend services with fellow congregants allowed us to be in three places at once with our offspring and their offspring to light the Chanukah candles. The same day, I received congregational e-mail from Rabbi Stuart Seltzer, who taught our boys at Chizuk Amuno Congregation iin Pikesville, Md.  They were among his first pupils 30 years ago. His message: We're going through tough times, but Chanukah is still a season of miracles. In 2020 that miracle is called ZOOM. Here's what the Rabbi wrote, posted with his permission.

Mike Himowitz

A Hanukkah Message from Rabbi Stuart Seltzer

Director, Congregational Education

Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Pikesville, Maryland

167 to 160 BCE.

When the Maccabees found out that Antiochus and his army had destroyed the Big Temple in Jerusalem, they formed an army and wiped out the invaders.

The Temple was in ruins, a disaster for the entire Jewish people. When the Maccabees saw the destruction, they quickly rebuilt and cleaned the Temple to make it a place where people could gather and study Torah again.

But, in the wreckage, they were only able to find one jar of sacred oil that wasn't destroyed in order to light the seven-branched menorah in the Temple. Some people said it would only last one day; others who believed in miracles said that it would last all 8 days. Miraculously, the oil did last for 8 days: this is the miracle we celebrate every year at Hanukkah.

It is now 2020.

To our students, members, faculty and staff - you are the Maccabees, facing a difficult crisis, needing a miracle, and Zoom is your jar of sacred oil.

If we believe in miracles, it will last as long as we need it to.

Like that one jar of sacred oil found by the Maccabees, Zoom will allow us to keep learning together during this crisis.

Zoom is helping us to get through.

Zoom allows us to see our family and friends.


Zoom allows us to share stories and jokes.


Zoom allows us to get married, become B'nei Mitzvah, and share words of comfort with the bereaved.

Zoom allows us to celebrate holidays and birthdays together.


Zoom allows us to stay connected and pray together.


Zoom allows the lessons of the Torah to brighten and guide our lives.


Zoom creates light and hope that we can stay strong and keep our tradition alive during COVID-19.


It is still a time of miracles.


We hope that next Hanukkah, the our entire Chizuk Amuno and Schools community will come together in person to light the Hanukkiyah and recite the blessings! We will talk about the miracle of the oil and the miracle of Zoom, how Hanukkah reminds us to have hope, and that God works in wondrous ways!


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