Tonight we celebrate a Jewish convergence:
- Rosh Chodesh Tevet!
That means the longest Birkat Hamazon of the year tonight and tomorrow, as Rabbi David Wolpe pointed out on Twitter today.
Longest Birkat Hamazon of the year tomorrow. Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh, Hanukkah. Eat quickly. @MyShtender
— David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe) December 11, 2015
Rabbi Wolpe didn’t mention that this will also add bits and pieces to the service tomorrow morning, all of it special:
We add Al HaNissim to the Amidah during Chanukah. It’s a prayer of thanksgiving for the miracles of Chanukah. This version is a lot more entertaining that merely reciting the prayer, but I can’t resist posting it:
For a translation and an explanation of the prayer, here’s an explanation from the Orthodox Union website.
Because it is also Rosh Chodesh Tevet, we recite a short Hallel (Praise) prayer tomorrow morning. This is a recording of Hallel sung by the Women of the Wall on Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5771, but it’s pretty close to what you will hear in a liberal synagogue tomorrow morning:
The video starts sideways, I don’t know why, but bear with it – the Hebrew is clear and beautiful. Hallel is a set of hymns of praise that likely go back to Temple times. Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism has a lovely piece on the Meaning and History of Hallel.
Finally, there are also special Torah readings for Chanukah, from the Book of Numbers.
This is the liturgical equivalent of a Chanukah party: we’re celebrating, praising, telling stories, and most of it comes with rousing tunes. I hope you enjoy your Chanukah convergence: I plan to do so!