Merry Christmas <> Happy Hanukkah <> Habari Gani, Kwanzaa Celebrants

We send wishes for Peace & Plenty in 2017.

<>  Monica  <>  Joe  <>  Duke  <>  Rabbit  <>  Tommy  <>

Kwanzaa is a secular celebration, unlike Christmas and Hanukkah. Although many people do not know much about it, its tenets are hard to resist.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from matunda ya kwanza, a Swahili phrase for “first fruits.” It is based on traditional African harvest festivals, combining customs from a number of different cultures. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba). It was created by Maulana Karenga, and was first celebrated in 1966–1967.

Each of the seven days represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or nguzo saba.

Day 1 ~ Umoja means unity.

Day 2 ~ Kujichagulia means self-determination.

Day 3 ~ Ujima means working together.

Day 4 ~ Ujamaa means supporting each other.

Day 5 ~ Nia means purpose.

Day 6 ~ Kuumba means creativity.

Day 7 ~ Imani means faith, especially faith in ourselves.


On Friday, I heard NY Cardinal Timothy Dolan on CBS This Morning speaking about hope. He is a funny, interesting man, who can grab an audience and hold them. Three things caught my attention. Cardinal Dolan said that many people think that hope is more important than faith, although later on, he made it very clear how important Faith (with the capital “F”) is. I was reminded of Michelle Obama’s interview this week with Oprah Winfrey, in which she weighed in on hope. He also defined Pontifex, as “bridge-builder.” Having stood on the Ponte Vecchio, I was reminded that the faithful believe the Pope is the bridge to God. And finally, the Cardinal talked about Joseph and Mary as a refugee family in trouble and in crisis, and how Jesus, a homeless infant, is celebrated in millions of homes every year. His point was that we should not turn people away who are in crisis, and if I were to hold anything dear about Christianity, it would be that we must help those less fortunate than us.

You can find the video here:


I read an interesting op-ed about Hanukkah a few years ago, and found it again on line. Its main point is

“The original miracle of Hanukkah was that a committed band of people led a successful uprising against a much larger force, paving the way for Jewish independence and perhaps keeping Judaism itself from disappearing. It’s an amazing story, resonant with America’s own founding, that offers powerful lessons about standing up for one’s convictions and challenging those in power.

Many believe the rabbis in the Talmud recounted the miracle of the light alongside the military victory because they did not want to glorify war. That in itself is an important teaching, as are the holiday’s related messages of renewal, hope and turning away from darkness.”

You can read the whole piece here:


Knowledge and empathy are the tenets of hope, and they are the most important principles I taught in all my years in the classroom because

Ignorance = Fear.

Indifference = Cruelty.

Till next time.  PEACE.

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