The Shofar, Temple Beth El’s monthly publication, keeps community and temple members up to date on what’s going on. Take a look at this month’s Shofar to see what’s coming up, or browse through the archives to see all that we’ve done!
Rabbi’s Ramblings (from the December Shofar)
Miracle of miracles – Hanukkah is here! And we are celebrating big-time this year. I look forward to seeing you at our fabulous Hanukkah program/Latke Brunch and Tzedakah Faire on Sunday, December 2, and at our first-ever Hanukkah 8K (Eight Krazy Kilometers) fun-run, even if you are not a runner!
Once a minor (and always a non-Biblical) festival – the books of Maccabees are not included in the Jewish canon – Hanukkah has evolved into an occasion to “publicize the miracle.” In rabbinic literature, this referred to the obligation to display our Hanukkiot in our windows. To-day, that act of courage – and all the others it inspires – means so much more than sharing the story of a little flask of oil.
Most of the time, most of us feel safe wearing our Judaism on our sleeves – on our heads (kipot), around our necks (mezuzot, stars of David, hamsas and chais), or on our t-shirts. But in the past two years especially, active anti-Semitism has been on the rise. No longer confined to the anti-Israel sentiment expressed on college campuses as the BDS (ban, di-vest and sanction) movement, scary sentiments once kept on the down-low are now spoken aloud with impunity. Charlottesville and Pittsburgh and even Brooklyn are place-names etched in the mind and memory of every Jew.
We have a great many friends here in Bakersfield, as my post-Pittsburgh communications attest. Still, it is incumbent upon us to keep our eyes and ears open. We must continue to teach the ignorant, to educate our friends and neighbors about who we really are and what we stand for. We have seen and survived all of this before, and worse. And so long as we are vigilant and pro-active in educating our neighbors, we will continue to survive.
That, to me, is the real miracle of Hanukkah: the fact that, after thousands of years and thou-sands of generations, we are still here to tell our story. We may be small in number. But our light shines brightly, because our tradition teaches that the blessings of peace and love and harmony are universal, and are within the grasp of all who work for and practice righteous-ness and justice and deeds of lovingkindness.
In memory of the Pittsburgh eleven, and of all the kodashim – those who have been forced to make the ultimate sacrifice just because they were Jews – let us be ruled by hope, and not fear. Let us fulfill the mitzvah of pirsummei nissa – of publicizing the miracle, not just of the Hanukkah light, but of the light of our Torah and our tradition – now and all year-round.
Chag Hanukkah Sameyach,
Rabbi Cheryl Rosenstein