Chanukkah Lights

December 19, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Chanukkah Lights

It’s Hanukkah time again. Soon the lights of the hanukkiah will grow brighter each night, as we commemorate the victory of the few over the many, the fight for the freedom to live as Jews, and the courage that it took to turn back to a sacred tradition. As in the Maccabees time, the Jewish people are a small minority in America, valiantly trying to maintain our distinctive beliefs and practices in a time of diminishing belief and lessening of religious ritual.

More than two thousand years after the Maccabees’ battles, we still admire and find inspiration in their devotion to God and their miraculous deliverance by God. They fought for Judaism, and they celebrated their victory by re-asserting the primacy of God in their lives. The Maccabees teach us that sustaining Judaism must be our primary task, that it is a task which takes tremendous effort, and that the effort does not come without a cost.

Like the Maccabees, we face the challenge of sustaining Judaism in a harsh environment. American Jews do not suffer the active antagonism of non-Jews; our battle is not against the imposition of paganism but rather the lure of non-belief and the lack of communal connection that has become common across American society. The Jewish community is not immune to those trends, but we do know how to fight them. First, we must see ourselves as having a responsibility to one another. ​Kol Yisrael aravim zeh lazeh, we say, all the people Israel are connected to one another.

Second, we must commit ourselves to a life of learning, celebration and comfort by taking part in community programs and activities. Finally, we must commit ourselves to being on a path of ever making the world better and filled with increasing learning.

The Maccabees fought with the sword, spear and arrows; we will fight with engagement, learning and caring. We must act as one to fight the modern equivalent of a battle for Judaism’s future, so that our children’s children will look back at our time as one when, like the Maccabees, we lit the fire and brightened Jewish lives for generations to come.

Shabbat Shalom & Happy Chanukkah,
Rabbi Metz

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat