Shabbat Bulletin for

the Temple Sholom Community

14 December 2023 ~ 2 Tevet 5784

7th Day of Hanukkah ~ Parashat Miketz

Shalom, chaveirim - hello, friends - 

What feels like eons ago, back during Sukkot, I wrote a column celebrating the idea of guests/ushpizin for the Sukkah and I used the model of the Sukkah as a place where we could bring in diverse views and welcome those who may see the world differently than we do. I wrote thinking about the political and social divisions we have here in the United States though I was also thinking about the protests and divisions in Israel. 

And then October 7th happened. The last day of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, became a day of darkness and destruction. And some of those sukkot are still standing in Israel because homes were abandoned and desecrated in the most unfathomable of ways. Not only did people with diverse views enter sacred space, they brought violence and a worldview which seeks nothing short of the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people. 

Israel has been focused on survival and strength these last two months and the Jewish people across the world have worked to remain supportive while also facing antisemitism, the likes of which we have not known for decades. So too, we have faced internal divisions that - like the Jews of earlier eras - have pitted Jew against Jew.

While I still welcome diverse views … I realize there are certain assumptions which must be made in order for productive conversation to happen. Diverse views do need to live side-by-side in a society. After all, acceptance of and allowance for the minority opinion is the hallmark of a liberal society. 

Drawing again on Jewish symbols, I turn to the hanukkiah (the menorah for Hanukkah with eight or nine branches) and the discussion related to its lighting provides an excellent model for the Jewish people and those with whom we may disagree. 

I have a friend who lights two menorahs on Hanukkah: One according to the House of Shammai and one according to the House of Hillel. Those two houses of study in the rabbinic world of the Talmud took very different approaches to lighting the menorah. Shammai kindled eight lights on the first night of the holiday and one fewer each successive night. That style of lighting was based the model of Sukkot when fourteen bulls were brought the first day for offering and one fewer each successive day of the holiday. On the other hand, Hillel kindled one light on the first night and added one more light each night based on the principle of ma’alin bakodesh ~ rising in holiness. We know which custom prevailed and is the one which we are to follow based on Jewish law: Hillel. And after all: who doesn’t love to see one more light each night!? 

And so for the last, roughly, 2,000 years, Jews have been lighting one additional light each night for the eight nights of Hanukkah as a sign of increasing light and a desire to raise and increase holiness in our world. May the act alone inspire us in our daily behaviors! 

So what is with my friend and the two menorahs? The Shammai menorah is to recall the minority opinion and its importance in the conversation. After all, the story is not only recorded in Talmud (Shabbat 21b), it is studied and discussed! The Hillel menorah is to celebrate the unity of the Jewish people and our being on the same page and holding the same light at the same time. 

It’s a nice custom to light both styles of menorahs though in my house, we stick with Hillel. I appreciate the sentiment with the two menorahs and such a decision prompts great discussion and opportunities for learning. 

After the remarkable display of Ivy League school presidents who were tongue-tied when it came to answering the most basic questions about antisemitic language and its status on campus as well as countless city councils in the United States allowing for extended discussions about ceasefire resolutions that only divide communities and allow for horrific vitriol against the Jewish people and Israel, I realized something about the ushpizin/guests of Sukkot. 

The guests of Sukkot are all shepherds. Surely they had different ideas about their trade but they were operating in the same field of animal husbandry. So too with the Houses of Hillel and Shammai and their hanukkiyot: they both believed in lighting the menorah to commemorate the holiday and celebrate the miracle of our survival. They held certain realities and ideas together so they could have a conversation. At their core: God, Torah, and Israel were central and shared. We are living in an era where we want to include various opinions but the challenge lies when our opponents don’t share even the most basic commonalities: the right for our protection, let alone existence.  

The last night of Hanukkah is always a little bittersweet to me as I know I will miss the lights and time with friends and family singing for even just a few minutes. Today's challenge is to remember that the holiness of the lights and the room for discussion are always there - even without the menorahs. It is upon us to find the means and the opportunities to work with people who have different views but at a minimum, have shared facts and frameworks with a willingness to live with one another and solve even the greatest of problems which face our current world. 

The Maccabees - and notably the Hasmonean Dynasty which led our people after the rededication of the Second Temple in 164 BCE - came to an end ultimately when Roman rule came to Israel and the eastern Mediterranean. Whereas the Maccabees saved the Temple in the 164 BCE, the Jews of 70 CE were not so fortunate and the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Maybe that is why the 8th night is so bittersweet for me - because we know what will come of that Temple. And the rabbis of old - who debated about how to kindle the lights of Hanukkah also told the story about why that Temple fell. While there is plenty of blame for the Romans and their vile actions - ultimately, the rabbis direct us to look at the divisions and disagreements among the Jewish people to understand why the Temple fell. 

And so. Our work is great but so too are the strength and opportunities for the Jewish people. May we work together to keep our people’s land of Israel strong and our communities thriving and whole with the light of the menorah glowing in our hearts. Am Yisrael Chai! Chag Urim Sameach! 

Rabbi Mark Cohn

Recommended Resources from the Rabbi's Desk(top) for the weekend ...

Constant and important updates, podcasts, blogs, and articles from Times of Israel, Tablet Magazine, and Sapir Journal.

And now there is another resource to add. Sources Journal has been around for a little while and just released its most recent edition - entirely focused on the Israel and the War with Hamas.


"Poison Ivy League: A long-term plan to address the roots of campus hate and antisemitism will benefit not just Jews but America," by David Bernstein in The Jewish Journal.

"We write jokes and God laughs: Amid the horror in Israel 'Eretz Nehederet,' the country's version of SNL has become both a weapon and 'spiritual first aid'," by Polina Fradkin in The Free Press.

"Antisemitism: A Guide for the Perplexed" by Bret Stephens in The New York Times.

"Words, hope, pain and denial - two months on," by Robbie Gringras in The Times of Israel.

"The Zionism of David Ellenson," by Rabbi Josh Weinberg, president of the American Reform Zionist Association (ARZA).


"Israel at War: Gazan Civilians" from Rabbi Donniel Hartman & Yossi Klein Halevi of the Shalom Hartman Institute on For Heaven's Sake.

"Rattled, Raw, and Resilient" on the Park Avenue Synagogue Podcast with Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove. Rabbi Cosgrove discusses the congregation's recent 72-hour "Show of Unity" trip to Israel.


"Safety First on Campus. Except for Jews," on The Free Press.


EDUCATORS: Check out Unpacked: For Educators! which has wonderful resources about Israel, Palestine, Judaism and more!!

VOLUNTEER IN ISRAEL: Check out this list prepared by the Jewish Federations of North America AND see the Jewish National Fund as well. You may also look at Authentic Israel that offers several trips in the coming months. Lastly, see Esra, which is a great organization in Israel for English-speakers.

Tuesday Lunch & Learn with

Rabbi Mark Cohn

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Hanukkah redux - did you know there is a megillah (scroll) for the holiday!? It's true. Megillat Antiochus. We'll explore a segment together.



Services & Study

Kabbalat Shabbat

Friday Evening 6:30PM


Dec. 15


Shabbat Morning 10:00AM

Dec. 16


We will welcome Layla Cooperman to the bima to celebrate her becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Come join in the blessing of seeing a young woman read from Torah, teach from its words, and receive blessings during a Shabbat morning service.

As part of Layla's mitzvah project, she is collecting food for the Sherman Food Pantry. If you would like to bring canned or boxed food, please do so during office hours or service-times.

Mazal tov to the Cooperman family!!


Dec. 22, 29


Shabbat Morning Torah Study - 9:30am*


December 16*, 23, 30

*Rabbi Cohn will lead December 16th at 9:00am. NOTE: special start-time!