Friday, December 23, 2016

Dedication of New Front Doors at Temple Beth-El Las Cruces - December 23, 2016

Exodus 25:31-33
You shall make a lampstand of pure gold: the lampstand shall be made of hammered work; its base and its shaft, its cups, calyxes, and petals shall be of one piece.  
Six branches shall issue from its sides: three branches from one side of the lampstand and three branches from the other side of the lampstand.  On each branch there shall be...cups shaped like almond-blossoms.

I, the Eternal, in My grace, have summoned you.
And I have grasped you by the hand. 
I created you, and appointed you a covenant people, a light of nations.
Opening eyes deprived of light.
Rescuing prisoners from confinement, 
From the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
I am the Eternal One, that is My name. [Isaiah 42:6-7]
 The Eternal One is my light and my help; 
whom should I fear? [Psalm 27:1]
The human spirit is the lamp of the Eternal One. [Proverbs 20:27]
The commandment is a lamp, the Teaching is a light. [Proverbs 6:23]
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.  [Psalm 119:105]

   The rabbis believed that the menorah from the Temple was so sacred that no effort should be made to reproduce it.  Depictions of the menorah over the centuries sometimes had five branches, six branches, or eight branches, but artistic representations still often bore the seven branches.  
   These doors bear a stylized Menorah.  Some see a seven-branched Menorah in the wood, if you allow your eyes to see six branches floating on a sea of glass.   Some see a Chanukiah, both in the wood and in the glass, where the space between the two doors holds the place of the middle branch.  The menorah represents the oldest continuous Jewish symbol, our bearer of light from ancient times.  The Chanukiah brings light to a dark time of the year.  It reminds us of a crucial fight for freedom and how rekindling the light in the ancient Temple illustrates for us how we can rekindle our faith today, at any time, when we allow our heritage to inspire us.
During the day, these doors allow light to come in and to sense when someone has a desire to enter our space to join us.  At night, we can see the light from within shine forth into the night.
As these doors allow light in, may we be open to the lights of learning, freedom, friendship, love, hope and God’s presence so that they can suffuse our spirits.  As these doors reveal the light within to the darkness of the outside world, may we share our lights with our community, the lights of wisdom, wonder, creativity, commitment, kindness, and peace.
May we enrich ourselves every time we walk through this entryway, and may our personal and communal growth offer new and unique gifts to the world.  
We recite this verse from the book of Psalms to consecrate these doors and all that they represent:
בִּנְדָבָ֥ה אֶזְבְּחָה־לָּ֑ךְ א֤֘וֹדֶה שִּׁמְךָ֖ יְהֹוָ֣ה כִּי־טֽוֹב
Bi-n’davah ez’b’chah lach - Odeh shimcha Adonai ki tov. 
With a generous gift, I make an offering to You, O God; I give thanks to Your name, for it is good. 
(Psalm 54:8) 

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