We are now in the season of dedication. Dedication is the translation of Chanukah. Beyond the story of oil lasting for eight days, or of a rebellion against the Syrian-Greeks, Chanukah is a story of faith giving people strength to overcome their fear. Fear rides highest in times of darkness. Chanukah falls in the darkest part of the year, at the winter solstice. Into that dark, Chanukah brings a little light, a little faith. There is no doubt that this year the darkness is thick. Thick enough to touch - like the darkness of the ninth plague upon Egypt. It is a darkness not only of a night sky, but also of belief: belief in a way of life that once held hope for a brighter tomorrow, belief in ourselves to make a difference in the world and leave it a better place, belief in one another. Are we looking in the wrong places? Are we asking the wrong questions?
As a people, we come together so strongly when we are in crisis. How can we gather that energy and concern and keep it going regardless of our favored immediate crisis? We can realize that whether or not it is our particular passion, there are always crises to address. That alone should pull us together. For as surely as if you ignore a function of your body it will affect your entire well-being, so too, it is with a society. This does not mean we need to live in a state of abject tension and general dismay. Rather, it means we need to acknowledge that everyone has difficulties and everywhere there are problems to overcome. If we can accept that, and treat each other with kindness and compassion at all times, as if there were a national crisis, then the world, then our worlds, our lives, would become more aligned with what we claim we stand for, tikkun olam, healing the world.
There is a gift in this for us. A lovely Chanukah gift that we don’t have to buy at the store and that no one will tell you about on the TV. In fact, it will hamper the efforts of those who sell us on need and greed. For the gift is that we become more grateful for what we have. Being grateful does not mean putting on rose-colored glasses, but it does give us an opportunity to see balance in the world. Being grateful allows us to open our hearts to what we have so that what we lack doesn’t leave us so fearful. Being grateful allows us to extend ourselves to others because we need not be envious that someone has something more, we can understand that it might just be different. Being grateful allows us to be followers of Yehudah, Judah, a name meaning “I am grateful”.
This Chanukah, may the world be filled with gratitude for an ever evolving creation of which we are a part. May our lives be dedicated to bringing light and enlightenment into the world. May your homes be filled with joy and with love.
Wishing you each a Happy Chanukah and Wonderful New Year.
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Community educator, choreographer, composer, performer, Becker, M.S.W., M.Ed., M.R.S., Ph.D., serves as rabbi for Temple Emanuel-Pueblo, cellist for Apples and Honey and is a Storahtelling Maven.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ISRAEL
WOMEN OF THE WALL http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/12/22/world/middleeast/100000001969698/women-at-the-western-wall.html