So, almost time for Hanukkah again! A comparatively minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, yet with significance also. It evokes thoughts of lighting the Hanukkiah, enjoying latkes and doughnuts fried in oil, chocolate gelt, gifts, an ancient victory and miracles! When a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies and drove the Greek-Syrian oppressors from the land it was certainly a miracle that the Holy Temple was reclaimed despite all odds. Talmud tradition says a single cruse of pure oil miraculously burned for eight days instead of one. In our prayerbook section Hanukkah/ Al Hanissim, we find the following: “For the miracles, for the deliverance, for the victories, for the triumphs, and for the battles You fought for our ancestors in those days and at this time.” The Amidah (sixth B’rakhah) contains mention of miracles as well: “We thank you and sing your praises – for our lives that are in Your hands, for our souls that are in Your care, for Your miracles that accompany us each day, for Your wonders and Your gifts that are with us each moment – evening, morning, and noon.” In the first B’rakhah after the Shema, we read “Adonai avenged us with miracles before Pharaoh, offered signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.” Hmmmm….all this talk of miracles, but how can we relate in our modern day life? If we pause and reflect we can find wonders that occur all around us every day to be thankful for. Welcoming a new baby into the world, a full recovery from a serious illness, and other less obvious things we might simply chalk up to as being “lucky” or maybe “being in the right place at the right time”.
Seasonal greetings and a hopeful desire for peace is another thought at this time of year. A worthy pursuit anytime is tikkun olam which is Hebrew for“world repair”. There are many ways we can personally better the world right here in Middle Georgia. Our Social Action Committee coordinates shul volunteers to serve food on the 3rd Thursday of each month for Macon Outreach. Religious School volunteers and teachers help better the lives of our Jewish Youth. Offering someone a ride to services, hosting a Shabbat meal, a simple phone call to someone who is shut in…these are all ways to facilitate fellowship and make someone’s life better.
I wish you a season of wonders and peace and oh yes – the opportunity to savor the sweetness of good conversation and good food at our annual Hanukkah Family Night Dinner! (Save the Date for Sunday, December 18th at the synagogue beginning at 5 pm.)
Happy Hanukkah and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017!