Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"Candlelight" and "Angels We Have Heard on High"

I began the tradition of posting Christmas and Hanukkah songs during holiday season several years ago. This year both holidays fall on the same day. The first night of Hanukkah is Christmas Eve.

I think that this is very prophetic in a way. Here you have the holiday of the birth of the Prince of Peace and the remembrance of the first fight for religious freedom.

The Jews, the indigenous population of the Land of Israel/Holy Land/Judea, had been occupied by their oppressors the Assyrians for generations. The Assyrian-Greek king, Antiochus,  decided to eradicate the Jewish religion from the face of the Earth and force the Jewish people to worship him as a divinity.

The Jewish People, led by the Maccabees, fought back.

The Assyrians lost that war.

Thus began the Hasmonean Dynasty, which unfortunately ended with the occupation of Judea by Rome.

As a religious Jew, many historians, and those who understand first century politics, believe that Jesus was greatly influenced by the history of the Maccabees. Remember the Hasmonean Dynasty was still in control of Israel when the Romans began their occupation of the Land of Israel/Judea less than 100 years before Jesus' birth. In fact, the hated Roman puppet Herod, responsible for so many of the great ancient Roman structures still standing today in Israel, was married to a Hasmonean princess. It was after his rule that the Romans installed the vile Pontius Pilot.

During this holiday time, when we are reminded of Good will on Earth and we revive a hope for peace, freedom and compassion, we need to remember that we live in turbulent times. In truth its not as if we could really forget. Simply turn on the news, or read a paper, or go on social media, and it's right there in front of you.

Evil and intolerance will always rear its ugly head. Sadly there is nothing ahistorical about the rise of hate. But it is when good people demand and fight for justice and righteousness that evil can and will always be vanquished. It is not an easy fight. But we need to fight the fights that are worth fighting, not the fights that are easy.

May God bless you and your families during this time of the year.

May God bless us all with strength, wisdom and fortitude.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Book Review: The Devlin Quick Mysteries-Into the Lion's Den by Linda Fairstein

You may know of Linda Fairstein from her popular and intriguing Alexander Cooper mystery series. Always interesting, and full of surprises, Fairstein keeps us on our toes when it comes to the genre of who-done-its and legal thrillers. Bringing into play her career in the Manhattan DAs office, what Fairstein does for the adult mystery enthusiasts, she now does for readers ages 8-12. Welcome to her new series starring young heroine Devlin Quick in  Into the Lion's Den.

A rambunctious, precocious, adorable teenager Devlin, or Dev for short, uses her wits to find the man her friend Liza, saw steal a page out of a very rare map book at the New York Public Library. It all begins with an exciting chase through the streets of midtown Manhattan as our heroine tries to keep an eye on this dangerous miscreant. It doesn't take our intrepid detectives long to find out that this is not the first time our thief has struck.

So begins the readers travels through the boroughs and libraries of New York City, as well as travailing the ins and outs of the vaulted 1PP, or One Police Plaza. The home of New York City's Police Commissioner. Who just happens to be Dev's mom.

As is Fairstein's style the reader is not only gifted with an interesting and sometimes illusionary mystery, but are exposed to some interesting facts along the way. Since this is a story surrounding libraries, and the New York City police department, young readers partake of information about beloved authors, forensic analysis, and stories of police departments past. In fact the book's mystery itself, is taken from a real life crime story that became a major cause celebre.

If you have an avid reader, or want to spark that reader within your pre-teen child, this book is a fun place to start. For both young girls and boys it provides a well written intelligent, forthright, honest and descent role model replete with a fact infused intriguing mystery. For parents this is a book that will excite your young reader, and teach them the lessons of sticktoitiveness, honesty, and friendship. This is an enjoyable yarn for all.