Friday, December 1, 2017

What we learn, what we see...on Chanukah - Column for Temple Beth-El Las Cruces Adelante Newsletter - December 2017

What do we learn from the freedom that the Maccabees won in their time? 
• They resisted the tyranny of a ruler and regime that sought to impose one culture, one belief, and one approach to life on everyone. 
• They demonstrated that power that lacks inspiration and purpose, but only seeks control, will not last.
 • They turned the perceived need among some of their fellow Jews to acquiesce to cultural pressures around them into an affirmation that it’s all right to be different. 
• They acted with courage in the face of great odds and what might have been certain defeat. 
• They kept their vision focused on what was holy to them: their values, their tradition, their rituals, their community, and their God. 
• They persisted in engendering hope at a hopeless time. 

What do we see in the lights we light on the Chanukiah? 
• We first see the history of each chanukiah we light: when it came into our home, who lit the candles on it over the years, why that particular chanukiah design bore significance for the family, and, perhaps, photographs of lighting the candles from year to year, and how Chanukah itself marks the passing of our heritage from one generation to the next. 
• We see the joy that we know in our own lives that comes from warming relationships with family and friends. 
• We see connections between us and the Jews around the world who are also lighting their Chanukiot. 
• We acknowledge that our celebration is one of many in December, which provides us with an opportunity to build bridges of understanding. 
• We look into the lights on the Chanukiah and see the guidance and wisdom of Judaism that has sustained us until now and can still nourish us with its teachings about compassion, commitment, justice, hope and peace. 
• We learn from using the Shamash to light the other candles that service is crucial to assuring that the lights of any society or nation, in the form of well-being for all people, will burn brightly. 
• We see the various colors of the flames, reminding us of the diversity of humankind that has a way of moving people towards coexistence out of necessity and, ultimately, out of love. 
• We watch the candles burn and feel their warmth, knowing that we can exude that same warmth through hospitality and generosity of spirit. 
May our celebration of Chanukah in 5778 lead us to a special place in ourselves and with each other. As the lights of Chanukah are holy, may we reflect that holiness in our lives through all we do. Happy Chanukah! 

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