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☞   Ḥanukkah Readings

This is an archive of public readings prepared for the festival of Ḥanukkah.

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the past didn’t go anywhere: making resistance to antisemitism part of all of our movements, by April Rosenblum (2007)

It’s always a real struggle for the Left to successfully tackle oppression within its own ranks. But when we do it, our movements gain, every time, from the deeper understandings that emerge. To start the process this time, we need some basic information about what anti-Jewish oppression is and how to counter it. But it has to come from a perspective of justice for all people, not from opportunistic attempts to slander or censor social justice efforts that are gaining strength. . . .

מְגִילַּת יְהוּדִית לְאָמְרָהּ בַּחֲנֻכָּה | Megillat Yehudit, the Medieval Scroll of Judith to be said on Ḥanukkah

This is a faithful transcription of the text of the medieval Megillat Yehudith (the Scroll of Judith), not to be confused with the deutero-canonical Book of Judith, authored in Antiquity. We have further set this text side-by-side with the English translation made by Susan Weingarten, and vocalized and cantillated the Hebrew so that it may be chanted. . . .

מִדְרַשׁ מַעֲשֶׂה חֲנֻכָּה ב׳ | Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah “bet,” a retelling of Megillat Antiokhus as Midrash Aggadah

A retelling of the story found in Megillat Antiokhus as midrash aggadah. . . .

מִדְרַשׁ מַעֲשֶׂה חֲנֻכָּה ב׳ | Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah “bet” in Ladino, a retelling of Megillat Antiokhus by Rabbi Isaac Magriso (1764)

This is a largely uncorrected transcription of Rabbi Isaac Magriso’s telling of Megillat Antiokhus in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) from the Me’am Loez: Bamidbar Parshat BeHe’alotekha (Constantinople, 1764). The paragraph breaks are a rough estimation based on my comparison with the English translation of Dr. Tzvi Faier (1934-2009) appearing in The Torah Anthology: Me’am Loez, Book Thirteen – In the Desert (Moznaim 1982). I welcome all Ladino speakers and readers to help correct this transcription and to provide a complete English translation for non-Ladino readers. . . .

מִדְרַשׁ מַעֲשֶׂה חֲנֻכָּה א׳ | Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah “alef,” a tale of the people’s resistance to the Seleucid Greek occupation

This digital edition of Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah was transcribed from the print edition published in Otzar Hamidrashim (I. D. Eisenstein, New York: Eisenstein Press, 5675/1915, p.189-190). With much gratitude to Anat Hochberg, this is the first translation of this midrash into English. . . .

מדרש לחנוכה | Midrash l’Ḥanukkah, an interwoven miscellany of Ḥanukkah stories

The following is the Midrash l’Ḥanukkah, one of a collection of three midrashim and two megillot containing the details of the story of Ḥanukkah in the Jewish rabbinic tradition. Those already familiar with these other works will quickly recognize portions or summaries of them here albeit with precious additional information added not found anywhere else. . . .

מְגִילַּת אַנטְיוּכַס | Megillat Antiokhus in Aramaic, critical text by Menaḥem Tsvi Kaddari with English translation by John C. Reeves

The critical text of Megillat Antiokhus in its original Aramaic, prepared by Menaḥem Tsvi Kaddari and translated into English by John C. Reeves. . . .

מְגִילַּת אַנטְיוּכַס | Megillat Antiokhus for Ḥanukkah in Aramaic, translated in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English

The Megillat Antiochus was composed in Palestinian Aramaic sometime between the 2nd and 5th century CE, likely in the 2nd Century when the memory of the Bar Kochba revolt still simmered.. The scroll appears in a number of variations. The Aramaic text below follows the critical edition prepared by Menaḥem Tzvi Kaddari, and preserves his verse numbering. The English translation by Rabbi Joseph Adler (1936) follows the Hebrew translation in the middle column, the source of which is a medieval manuscript reprinted by Tzvi Filipowsky in 1851. Adler and Kaddari’s verse ordering loosely follows one another indicating variations in manuscripts. Where Aramaic is missing from Kaddari’s text, the Aramaic version from Adler’s work is included in parentheses. Adler also included a Yiddish translation which we hope will be fully transcribed (along with vocalized Hebrew text, a Hungarian translation, and perhaps even a Marathi translation from South India) for Ḥanukkah 5775 , G!d willing. . . .

Soliloquy of Yehudis, by Moreh Yehudis Fishman

A soliloquy in the voice of Judith. . . .

מגילת אנטיוכס | Megillat Antiochus, translated into German by Chajm Guski

Es war in den Tagen des Antiochus, dem König der Griechen, eines großen und starken Königs, fest in seiner Herrschaft, und alle Könige hörten auf ihn. Er eroberte viele Länder und besiegte starke Könige, verwüstete ihre Paläste, verbrannte sie im Feuer und warf ihre Bewohner gefesselt in den Kerker. Seit den Tagen Alexanders stand kein solcher König auf, an der Küste des großen Meeres. Und er erbaute am Ufer des Meeres eine mächtige Stadt, als Königssitz, und nannte die Stadt Antiochia – nach seinem Namen. . . .

מדרשים על אדם הראשון ותקופת החורף | Midrashim on the Origin of Winter Solstice Festivals by the Primordial Adam

Our Rabbis taught: When Adam HaRishon (primordial Adam) saw the day getting gradually shorter, he said, ‘Woe is me, perhaps because I have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!’ So he began keeping an eight days’ fast. But as he observed the winter solstice and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said, ‘This is the world’s course’, and he set forth to keep an eight days’ festivity. In the following year he appointed both as festivals. Now, he fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [unenlightened] appointed them for the sake of star worship. . . .

מגילת אנטיוכס עם טעמי מקרא | Megillat Antiokhus, with ta’amei miqra (for cantillation) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Perhaps Megillat Antiokhus could be read a la Esther on Purim (the holiday with the most similarities), going to Eicha trope in the upsetting parts. A few notes: on the final mention of Bagris the Wicked I included a karnei-farah in the manner of the karnei-farah in Esther. I also included a merkha kefulah in the concluding section, which (according to David Weisberg’s “The Rare Accents of the Twenty-Eight Books”) represents aggadic midrash material. It also serves as a connection to the Chanukah haftarah, which is famously the only one that has a merkha kefulah. –Isaac Mayer . . .

Haftarah Reading for the First Shabbat of Ḥanukkah (Zekharyah 2:14-4:7): Chantable English translation with trōp, by Len Fellman

The hafatarah reading for the first Shabbat of Ḥanukkah in English translation, transtropilized. . . .

Selections from 1 & 2 Maccabees and Pesiqta Rabbati on the Desecration and Rededication of the Temple and the Rekindling of the Sacred Fire

Selections from 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and Pesiqta Rabbati which inform the story of Ḥanukkah: the desecration and re-dedication of the Temple (especially as it relates to Sukkot and the Brumalia), divine intervention in the Maccabean battles, and the Rekindling of the Sacred Fire. . . .

Haftarah Reading for the Second Shabbat of Ḥanukkah (1 Kings 7:40-50): Chantable English translation with trōp, by Len Fellman

The hafatarah reading for the second Shabbat of Ḥanukkah in English translation, transtropilized. . . .

הפטרה חלופית לשבת שחל ביום לפני חנוכה או ביום הראשון של חנוכה (ביום כד׳ וכה׳ לכסלו)‏ | Alternative Haftarah for when Shabbat falls either on the day before Ḥanukkah or the first day of Ḥanukkah

When the first day of Ḥanukkah is a Shabbat, the last day of Ḥanukkah is also Shabbat. In most customs this is addressed by using the standard Shabbat Ḥanukkah haftarah from Zechariah on the first day and I Kings 7:40–50 on the last day. But this never sat well with me, since I Kings 7:40–50 (also the haftara for Vayakhel) is a very technical reading, and the last day of Ḥanukkah is more of a culmination. Conveniently, another minor prophet contemporary of Zechariah, Ḥaggai, discusses the reconstruction of the House as a process of national revitalization, *and* claims that the foundation of the temple was rebuilt on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month — i.e. the day before Ḥanukkah! This is historically fascinating since it suggests that Ḥanukkah as a rededication festival might predate the Maccabean Revolt entirely, but more importantly here, it makes it a very appropriate reading for the day before or the first day of Ḥanukkah. This is an alternative haftarah from the book of Ḥaggai , chapter 2 verses 2—23, that could be used as a replacement for the standard haftarah when Shabbat falls on the day before Ḥanukkah or on the first day of Ḥanukkah. When read on the first day of Ḥanukkah, the traditional Ḥanukkah haftarah reading of Zechariah 2:14–4:7 would be postponed to the eighth day in its place. . . .

מְגִילַּת אַנטְיוּכַס | Megilat Antiokhos — in the original Aramaic, cantillated according to the British Library manuscript Or 5866

This is a direct transcription, including cantillation and non-standard vocalizations, of the cantillated Megilat Antiokhos found in the British Library manuscript Or 5866, folios 105v-110r. . . .

סֵפֶר חֲנוֹךְ | The Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 83-90), with Aramaic Fragments and translations in Ge’ez and English

A mytho-historical chronicle of the story of humanity and Israel up until the Maccabean revolt depicted as a fable through a dream vision of Ḥanokh. . . .