Strange events visit our common world as Hanukkah began at sunset a few hours ago.
Following the vote at the UN to upgrade Palestine to observer-state status, a decision the US and Israel opposed, the Israeli government proceeded to build housing projects in a contested area—a questionable move.
In America, rabbis who lead Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, a prominent synagogue in Manhattan, sent out an email that appeared to applaud the vote but later distanced themselves from the tone of that email.
Here’s our hope for a peaceful Jerusalem and a re-dedication of Hanukkah to the basic values of existence, in the continued practice of Jewish life in America, where justice and equality are promised to people of all colors, of all national origins, and of all faith traditions (or no faith tradition). Here’s our hope for a general renewal of a balanced world of co-existence.
We quote now from a collection of Jewish teachings called Pesiqta Rabbati, from the second chapter:
How many renewals are there (using candles/flame)? There are seven: the renewal of heaven and earth (Genesis 2:1-3), the renewal of the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemia 6:15-16; Nehemia 12:27-42), the renewal of the returning exiles (Ezra 6:13-18), the renewal of the kohanim—that is why we light candles—the renewal of the world to come (“in that day the light of the moon will become like the light of the sun, and together they will be seventy times the light of the seven days of creation”), as it says, “I shall search for Jerusalem with flames,” the renewal of the leaders of each tribe of Israel (Numbers 7:1-11), and the renewal of the sanctuary (I Kings 7:51; I Kings 8:1-11; 62-66;II Dibre haYamim 7:1-6).
Thanks to Rabbi Dov Lerea of The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York for bringing this passage to our attention.
On the Internet
- TeachersFirst collection of lesson plans about Hanukkah
- New York Times article, “Hanukkah, Unabridged: The True Meaning of Hanukkah” by Hilary Leila Krieger
- A teacher’s guide to Hanukkah by Teach-nology
- Fifth-grade essay, “What Chanukah Means To Me,” by Rafael Shifren, a fifth-grade student at Chabad Hebrew Academy in Scripps Ranch, Calif., who won the national Menorah contest and read his essay at the lighting ceremony for the National Menorah near the White House earlier this evening