04 December 2013

Hanukah Day Seven: Unique and Miraculous

Last night at our community-wide Hanukah celebration, four different versions of musical leadership sang Hanukah songs (our Cantor, Josh Breitzer; Mika Hary, who leads the Keshet/Shira b'Shishi ensemble; world music instructors from our After School program; and our congregational choir.)  Each iteration represented a different texture to the varied musical traditions that give lift to the festival of lights and it was gratifying to see them sing alone and then together, in various forms, as projected words scrolled past beside them.

Latkes spilled over onto tables, virtually indistinguishable from the dreidels and gelt; and local vendors--Miriam, International Taste, De Nonna Rosa and Pinkberry plied their trade.

The 8th graders were there, too, collecting donations to help fund their upcoming February trip to Israel.  8 years ago, when we decided to remake Hebrew school, one of the initiatives was to link 6th, 7th and 8th grade in a kind of inseparable, three year program that culminated in the Israel trip. It's been working great so far and leads to a greater sense of bonding among the kids.  If you want to support the 8th graders trip, by the way, you can donate HERE.
As we gathered to light the seventh candle, more light poured out of the kitchen; and in a moment of quiet reflection, I thought about the thousands and thousands of meals our community has made and delivered since Sandy last year.  I thought about Macabees fighting for freedom more than two thousand years ago so that millenia later, in a land and under conditions that would have been totally unimaginable to a Jewish community then, we live in freedom in America and as an expression of the very values we fought for then--that we believe in a God who commands to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to the homeless--we do those things today as a clear-eyed, full-throated, celebratory expression of who we are.

I told this last story to our Early Childhood Center kids today at the celebration.  We are here today in large part because of the good that we do in the name of what our Tradition demands of us.  I'm not sure they grasped it but I have a feeling it might seep in.  Like the Hanukah oil burned beyond it's expected, allotted time.  Miraculous that we are still here, isn't it.  Unique and miraculous.

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