Chanukah is when we celebrate our existence as a nation separate from the non-Jews. A special nation with our own “culture”, the culture of the Torah and not of the secular world that surround us.

Yaakov Kramer is a nursing home administrator in Greenwich, CT, an hour drive from his home in the vibrant Waterbury community.

Last week, Yaakov was conversing with a speech therapist employed by the nursing home and the discussion turned to music. Yaakov is very into music, even singing on a professional level, and organizing the music at the last siyum hashas. The woman asked him if he is into music, to which he answered “yes, I listen to Jewish music and not the music of the general world”.

She asked “what style of music, country? classic”? To which Yaakov answered they have many different styles but it’s all of Jewish genre. She proceeded to ask “so you don’t know any country singers?” Yaakov answered “not really”.

She then starts listing off name after name, which Yaakov didn’t know or maybe vaguely heard of. The woman looked at Yaakov and with shock she said “It seems that you live under a rock”.  To which Yaakov said, “it’s not that, it’s just we live differently”.

She then corrected herself jokingly, “you don’t live under a rock, you live under a yarmulke”!

Yaakov was so taken aback and realized that yes we may not know the “world’s” country singers but we know what’s going on in our world, the world true to the Torah.  We are not oblivious to what’s going on, because it’s simply not our world.

The Yevanim wanted us to be cultured in their world, but we remain in the world under our Yarmulkes!

Rabbi Heber could be reached via email at