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Rabbi's Week In Review - 12/21/2020

12/21/2020 01:48:18 PM

Dec21

As we wrapped up our celebration of Hanukkah for 5781, I made the casual observation that there seemed to be a greater awareness of and focus on the holiday than at any time I can remember. This was true not only within our Congregation Kol Ami community and our Jewish community but also from outside our Jewish community.

In a couple of different, regular meetings that I have with Christian clergy, Hanukkah seemed predominant in the conversation. Moreover, the questions were insightful, and they moved well beyond the usual and often troubling comparisons with Christmas. So why this year…?

Possibly, notwithstanding the chaos that has accompanied pandemic life, there has also been more interest in not just finding ways to stay connected but to afford ourselves the time to show more interest in the others in our lives. While the first question is always how you are going to observe [fill in the holiday] in the midst of the pandemic, the discussion moves on to learn more about that holiday. What are the theological underpinnings of the holiday? How does our Jewish community connect to the holiday? Does it carry some universal meaning as well?

We refer to ourselves as an Or L’Goyim, a light to the nations. This does not have to connote some sort of Jewish exceptionalism. However, whatever is different about being Jewish — about being us — can bring new light and perspective on how others see the world and see themselves. It is in our shared differences that we find a sense of unified meaning, and make the world a better place for all.

Wed, January 20 2021 7 Shevat 5781