The Obamas honor the military in their last holiday message from the White House: ´Their courage allows us to enjoy the season´

Daily Mail [UK], by Ariel Zilber Posted By: Attercliffe- Sat, 24 45 2016 04:45:05 GMT President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama used their final Christmas address from the White House on Saturday to acknowledge the sacrifices of American servicemen and women in the armed forces. ´No one better embodies that spirit of service than the men and women who wear our country´s uniform and their families,´ the president said in the video message that was posted on social media Saturday. ´As always, many of our troops are far from home this time of year and their families are serving and sacrificing right along with them,´ the first lady said. ´Their courage and dedication allow the rest

How Democrats ate their feelings after Hillary lost ‘ meal delivery site reported massive upticks in cheesecake, ice cream and dessert orders the days after Clinton lost

Daily Mail [UK], by Ariel Zilber Posted By: Attercliffe- Sat, 24 54 2016 04:54:41 GMT Donald Trump´s shock election victory was so unexpected it led traumatized Hillary Clinton voters to do the one thing that could comfort their wounded psyches – eat. Americans who voted for Hillary were so upset that they stopped counting calories on their emails and gorged on ice cream and cheesecake, according to Bloomberg News. While people are more likely to watch their weight and go to the gym in the earlier part of the week, there tends to be a drop’off on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Lose It!, a popular app which gauges caloric intake, noticed that there was a drop’off of four times

Russia questions US ´grip on reality´ after sanctions

Agence France’Presse, by Staff Posted By: Attercliffe- Sat, 24 09 2016 05:09:54 GMT Russia´s foreign ministry on Saturday lashed out at the US for slapping sanctions on Syrian ministers and a Russian bank, saying Washington had ´completely lost its grip on reality´. The United States on Friday added several senior Syrian officials including the ministers of oil and of finance and the leadership of a Russian bank to its sanctions blacklist. ´This widening of American sanctions against Russia … at a time when the bloody attacks in Ankara and Berlin should bring reasonable people together to fight the terrorist threat shows that Washington has completely lost its grip on reality,´ the ministry said in a

People Are Tweeting All The Bizarre Ways Their Pets Celebrate The Holidays

How do animals celebrate the holidays? Mostly by messing with your stuff and waiting for food to hit the floor, according to people sharing their experiences on Twitter.

The #HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays hashtag is full of cute animals hoping for that turkey to fall off the plate or making wrapping presents even more difficult than it already is. There are even a few cats who seem mostly OK with the hats they’ve been forced to wear.

Here are a few of the favorite posts that we’ve seen so far:

#HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays Plotting against you for putting costumes on them.

— Regina Spacola (@gigirules7) December 24, 2016

By licking their chestnuts by an open fire.

— Katt Klaus (@KattFunny) December 24, 2016

#HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays by staring at you while you cook

— KO (@Obie820) December 24, 2016

Dressing up like Santa Claws #HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays

— Silent Mike (@mpcowen) December 24, 2016


Thankfully only one cat is obsessed with the tree, after many’s still standing!

— anna krajacic (@annax0018) December 24, 2016

They wait for someone to slip them a slice of ham and don’t budge until they get it. #HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays

— Shake It Sister (@ShakeItSister) December 24, 2016

#HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays They climb onto the table when you’re not looking and eat half of the food. (This has happened to me)

— Carmela |-/ (@Dovewing122) December 24, 2016

Mostly by waiting for you to drop food #HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays

— Dammit Erin (@Elm3c) December 24, 2016

By spreading the love and sass. #HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays

— Kristen (@NavyBlue71) December 24, 2016

#HowPetsCelebrateTheHolidays They’re on top of it all. #ChristmasEve #Caturday

— Robby The Elf (@RobbyTheElf) December 24, 2016


Probably the same as I do.

— JαredOrɴαмeɴтBreαĸer (@JaredShadowbrkr) December 24, 2016

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Alan Dershowitz: Trump Did ‘Right Thing’ By Trying to Stop Obama From Allowing Anti-Israel UN Resolution

Alan Dershowitz writes at the Jerusalem Post: The Egyptian decision to withdraw the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution should not mask the sad reality that it is the Obama administration that has been pushing for the resolution to be e…

European Lefties Plan to March on ISIS While Waving White Flags

Two and half thousand Europeans plan to march into Aleppo waving white flags in a three month long, 2,000 mile demonstration against the civil war taking place in Syria. This year, like last, has been characterised by the massive flow of people northwards through Europe, many of them Syrians fleeing the bombs of Assad and the opposition factions. But a group of Europeans has decided to make the trek in the other direction in order to bring an end to the war, now in its fifth year. “We’re carrying these white flags to let the whole world know our message: Enough is enough. This war has to stop!” the group say in their manifesto. The march, which departs Berlin on Boxing Day, 26 December, was organised by journalist Anna Alboth. “I was having dinner with Syrian women I know in a refugee centre and they were showing me photos of a lot of people who had died,” she told the BBC. “People like me in safe countries can’t take it any more, and we see this as a chance to transform things. “Refugees who hear about it say that if we are willing to give up our comfortable lives to

Israeli Officials: Obama Showed His ‘True Face’ By Allowing Anti-Settlement UN Resolution

The United States’ failure to veto a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements was the “last sting of President Obama” that exposed his “true face,” unnamed Israeli officials said Saturday evening.

White House Blames Netanyahu for Anti-Israel UN Resolution

Jim Young/Reuters
TEL AVIV — Forget the Palestinian refusal to come to the bargaining table. President Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies of allowing Jews to build in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem for the decision by the U.S. to abstain from yesterday’s vote on an anti-Israel United Nations Security Council resolution.

The Real History Of Hanukkah Is More Complicated Than You Thought

This article was originally published on Dec. 9, 2015. This year, Hanukkah begins Saturday, Dec. 24, and ends Sunday, Jan. 1.

Americans who know anything about the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah may have heard that it celebrates the victory of good over evil ― the triumph of light over darkness. 

But the real history of Hanukkah’s origins is more complicated. It is as much the tale of a Jewish civil war as it is about successful resistance against foreign interlopers.

What’s more, the miracle of oil ― the inspiration for most of the contemporary holiday’s key rituals ― did not even become a part of Hanukkah’s mythos until centuries after the military win of the Maccabees rebel army. Here’s the real story.

Cultural Coexistence In Ancient Judea

In 200 B.C., the powerful Seleucid empire took over Judea, an area encompassing parts of what is now known as Israel and the Palestinian territories. The Greek-centric kingdom was founded by Seleucus, one of Alexander the Great’s top military officers, and had steadily expanded outward from its capital of Antioch in modern-day Syria.

Some Jews embraced aspects of the Seleucids’ Hellenic culture. But when Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended to the Seleucid throne in 175 B.C., he initiated an explicit program of Hellenization in the Jewish territory, promoting the values of worldly knowledge, physical beauty, hedonistic indulgence and polytheistic spirituality.

Antiochus’ measures were welcomed by some local Jews.

“The initiative and impetus for this often came from the locals themselves,” said Shaye J.D. Cohen, professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy at Harvard and author of From the Maccabees to the Mishnah. “They were eager to join the general, global community.”

For a basic explanation of Hanukkah, head over here. 

For example, the Jewish high priest, who served as religious leader and political ruler of the semi-autonomous Judea, welcomed the construction of a gymnasium in Jerusalem, where Seleucid military officials practiced traditional Greek exercise in the nude alongside local Jews, including priests. Antiochus also encouraged the development of the Greek educational system in Jewish society.

A growing number of Jews began worshiping Greek gods, too.

The rising influence of Hellenism was not immediately a source of open conflict within the Jewish community. In fact, Hellenism permeated even the most traditional circles of Jewish society to one degree or another. A typical Judean would have worn Greek robes and been proficient in the Greek language, whether he was urban or rural, rich or poor, a pious practitioner of the Mosaic faith or a dabbler in polytheism.

“Becoming more Hellenized didn’t mean they were less Jewish as a result,” said Erich Gruen, an emeritus history professor at University of California, Berkeley, and author of Diaspora: Jews Amidst Greeks and Romans. “Most Jews didn’t see Hellenism as the enemy or any way compromising their sense of themselves as Jews.”

So, What Went Wrong?

Eventually, Antiochus and his Jewish allies, including the high priest Menelaus, pushed the more pious Jews too far.

Menelaus embarked on a campaign of radical Hellenization in 167 B.C., prohibiting fundamental Jewish practices, such as circumcision, on pain of death. He also introduced foreign rites into the Jewish Temple, forcing Jewish pilgrims to sacrifice pigs, which are profane in Judaism. He built an altar to Zeus on top of the sacred altar to the Jewish god, Yahweh. Prostitutes were allowed to solicit their services freely on the Temple grounds.

It’s unclear whether Menelaus acted of his own volition with the Seleucids’ backing, on Antiochus’ orders, or some combination. Some scholars believe Antiochus’ efforts in Judea were part of an empire-wide attempt to consolidate his power by uniting the disparate territories under a common Hellenist banner. 

Others argue that the king’s courtiers, most likely including Jewish officials such as Menelaus, put him up to it. Those officials may have sought to “reform their religion in the name of the king,” Cohen said.

But one way or another, the tyrannical measures were too much for traditional Jews, prompting them to fight rather than acquiesce to the authorities’ demands.

“They actually rebel only when the religious persecution reached a level they could no longer tolerate,” said Cohen, who also chairs Harvard’s department of Near Eastern languages and civilizations. “The line in the sand seems to have been the Torah and the [commandments], and the profaning of the ritual of the Temple.”

Cohen characterized these Jews not as zealots, but as “realists.” Until then, they had embraced many Hellenistic norms in their own lives and accommodated the spread of practices to which they objected ― such as foreign worship ― among their co-religionists.

The Maccabees And The Jewish Civil War

Broadly speaking, the Jews of Judea can be divided into two camps based on their reaction to the prohibition of ancient Jewish rituals and the desecration of the Temple. The first camp, the pietists, were unwilling to comply with the radical measures and supported armed resistance against the high priest Menelaus. The second camp, the Hellenists, either welcomed the changes or did not care enough to fight them.

Pietist Jewish militants coalesced under the leadership of the Hasmoneans, a clan of Jewish priests that fled Jerusalem for the Judean town of Modi’in. Starting in 167 B.C., Judah, the third son of the Hasmonean patriarch Mattathias, led a guerrilla war against the Seleucids and their Hellenist Jewish sympathizers, along with his four brothers.

The Hasmonean brothers’ military successes earned them the nickname “Maccabees,” likely derived from the ancient Hebrew word for hammer.

It is not clear how many Hellenist Jews fought alongside the Seleucid forces in opposition to the Hasmonean-led militias, but the pietists certainly did not enjoy the support of all Judeans. Though the civil war did not break down along purely geographic lines, the Hasmoneans had a base of support in the countryside. 

There were even some observant Jews who did not side with the Hasmoneans. Years into the war, the Seleucids appointed a new high priest in an attempt to calm tensions. A group of pious Jews accepted his leadership, prompting the Maccabees to malign them in their account of events.

Thanks to a series of cunning Hasmonean military maneuvers and setbacks for the Seleucids elsewhere in their empire, the pietist militias conquered the city of Jerusalem in 164 B.C. They restored the ancient Jewish rites of the Temple, tearing down the altar to Zeus and other pagan gods.

The word “Hanukkah” means dedication in Hebrew, referring to the Maccabees’ re-dedication of the Jewish Temple, which is believed to have taken place around this time on the Jewish calendar.

Judah the Maccabee chose to celebrate the re-dedication of the Temple for eight days, the same length of time that King Solomon celebrated the consecration of the First Temple.

The eight-day festival was an attempt to “refurbish [Judah’s] image in the light of the heroes of the past,” Berkeley’s Gruen said. “Putting himself in the mold of Solomon at the time of the building of the First Temple is part of the image that Judah Maccabee wanted to deliver.”

What About The Miracle Of Oil?

The traditional Hanukkah story is that when the Maccabees arrived to re-consecrate the Temple, it was in such disarray that there was only enough olive oil to keep the sacred seven-branch candelabrum (or menorah) lit for one day. Instead, the oil miraculously lasted for eight days.

Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days to commemorate this miracle, lighting an additional candle on a special Hanukkah menorah ― or Hannukiah ― each night of the holiday. That is also why it is customary on Hanukkah to eat foods fried in oil, like potato latkes and doughnuts.

In reality, the rabbis likely developed the miracle-of-oil narrative several centuries after the events of Hanukkah took place. The first mention of the miracle is in a passage of the Babylonian Talmud dating to some time between the third and fifth centuries A.D.

Harvard’s Cohen said he believes that the rabbis of the Talmud came up with the miracle of oil in order to “demilitarize” Hanukkah.

“It gave the rabbis, who were uncomfortable with the Maccabees, a way to say they respected Hanukkah,” Cohen said. “Military victory and upheaval was not a good lesson for Jews to have living under the Roman empire. They didn’t want little Jewish boys to grow up and try to be Judah the Maccabee and try to attack the Romans.”

The use of oil lamps, however, was a component of the holiday almost from the start. Jews celebrated the holiday with the lighting of lamps, according to Maccabees II, a pro-Hasmonean, second-century account of events included in some versions of the Christian Bible.

Josephus Flavius, a Roman-Jewish historian in the first century A.D., also refers to “festival lights” in his description of the holiday’s observance.

Contemporary Hanukkah

Hanukkah remains a relatively minor holiday for Jews. It is far less important than Rosh Hashanah and Passover, for example.

But it has an outsize status in diaspora Jewish communities, the largest of which is in the United States, where Jewish religious devotion often takes a back seat to a sense of cultural pride. That Hanukkah typically falls around the same time as Christmas has also raised its profile.

For many Jewish Americans, it is the quintessential example of that old adage said to summarize many Jewish holidays: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.”

Now you know it’s more complicated than that. Let’s eat.

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Hanukkah 2016: Dates, Rituals And History Of The Festival Of Lights

This article, originally published on Dec. 3, 2015, has been updated to reflect 2016 dates.

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is celebrated for eight days beginning at sundown on Dec. 24, 2016. On the Hebrew calendar, the dates are 25 Kislev to 2 Tevet in the year 5777.

An eight-day celebration, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C. during the Maccabean revolt against oppressive Greek rulers. Jews celebrate the holiday by lighting a nine-branch candelabrum, commonly called a menorah. (Technically, the candelabrum for Hanukkah is called a hanukkiah to distinguish it from the seven-branch menorah used in the Temple and described in Exodus 25.)

The story of Hanukkah is one of revolution and miracles: Greek influence over the Jews in the land of Israel had become an affront to Jewish culture and ritual. Antiochus, the Greek ruler, forbade Jewish religious practice, so a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, revolted. These Jews eventually prevailed and, as a first order of business, restored the Holy Temple, which had been desecrated. The menorah in the Temple needed to be re-lit because, according to tradition, it should burn continuously. The Temple liberators found one vial of olive oil, enough for one day of light. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days.

Today, Jews everywhere light menorahs on each night of Hanukkah. Traditionally, one candle or flame is lit for each night until the eighth night, when all eight lights shine together. The menorah has a ninth “helper” flame — known as the shamash — used to light the other candles. This is necessary because in Jewish law, the Hanukkah lights’ only purpose is to visually proclaim the miracle of the holiday. Jews place the lit menorah in a prominent window in order to fulfill this commandment.

Gift giving is now a common practice on Hanukkah, and it is therefore a beloved time for many Jewish children. Fried potato pancakes (latkes) and doughnuts (sufganiyot) are traditional fare, and a spinning top (dreidel) with four Hebrew letters has become synonymous with the holiday. The letters — nun, gimel, hei, shin — form an acronym for the message of Hanukkah: A great miracle happened there. 

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