We are living in one of the darkest of times. Pandemic still afflicts, civil strife and racism still persists, inflation and the supply chain not yet fixed. (The replacement for my broken-down dishwasher is a month and a half away from delivery.) Recently, I read an article in anticipation of winter. Barrow, Alaska just began its 64-day hiatus without sunshine, slightly accented with an occasional twilight on the horizon. When things are dark it is hard to imagine light will return.
Chanukah is of course a holiday of light set in the less light filled days. Often our celebrations are associated with the time when the nights are longest. With rare exception, sometime around the fifth candle day, the days incrementally begin to lengthen, a harbinger of brighter times to come.
This pandemic has frayed our sensibilities and irritated our nerves. While it was novel to stare into a camera, that novelty has worn thin.
I am glad to stream our services to those who are still reasonably cautious and for those who for whatever reasons find it more convenient to constitute our minyan from afar. I am grateful to those who have ventured out and come to our services on Friday night, particular to two steadfast women Nancy Rosenberg and Lynn Strait ever vigilant to come and set up our oneg and read the prayers. They are not the only ones – the Blumenfeld family gets high marks for their steadfast participation along with our Vice-President and Ritual Committee chair, Mark Packer.
Our Temple community is a busy one. Most who have not been in a while may not know the activities that continue; Brown Bag Lunch, movie nights, Zoom Torah study, visitations to the homebound, skyping lessons in Hebrew, caring committee hospital visits, Sunday school, and more than occupy most of my time and the attention of many members. I wish to acknowledge those who have supported our other community concerns; the food pantry and most notably the Interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service that raised many thousands of dollars for Brothers Restoring Urban Hope. In the midst of our dark times I urge you to consider keeping our temple alive not merely through the finances but through the most important of all considerations, religious, ed- ucational participation. Woody Allen once quipped that 90 percent of life is just showing up.
One of the other most important aspects of any community cohesion is communication, not indirect in which someone else is appointed your Western Union messenger, but personal and direct. Foremost of the agenda of our sages was to thwart gossip which, though well intentioned is always fraught with dangerous miscommunication. It does not provide light, but only heat to our relationships. Our holiday season provides an ample opportunity to gossip about family and friends. Let us all not take advantage of that opportunity.
So, Chanukah is imminent. I wish one and all a season of light and joy!
Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz D.D.