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Sermon: Parshat Mikeitz/Chanukah, 12/28/19

12/29/2019 09:11:14 AM

Dec29

Rabbi Charlie

A brief teaching about the true meaning of Chanukah…

I lived in Jerusalem back in 2001-2002. I remember walking in the Old City in December and looking up to see a Christmas tree. And I was surprised. Not because it was a Christmas tree – we were in the Armenian Quarter where many Christians lived. I was actually surprised because I had forgotten that Christmas was happening.

There were no lights or decorations or music or anything. Instead – we saw suf ganiyot – jelly donuts everywhere. You saw glass boxes underneath mailboxes so people could light their menorah. But that was it. It was nice, but everything didn’t stop. I had always learned that Chanukah wasn’t a big holiday – but it wasn’t until I lived in Israel that I really felt it.

And that makes sense when you think about what Chanukah is really about. Yes, it’s about the food and oil and the miracles and the food. But it’s mostly about being able to live our lives as Jews. We take a moment, we light the candles, we share the story, we sing songs. It’s not life changing – it’s life affirming – celebrating our ability to live a Jewish life.

While Chanukah isn’t a major Holy Day, it is a special time. It’s a time to see the light glowing in the darkness and remember that there were times long ago that were much darker than today. These beautiful Chanukah lights before you offer us the same hope and inspiration that sustained our ancestors throughout the generations.

Chanukah means dedication. It’s a reminder to stay committed to our Judaism – to be Jewish every day – to do Jewish every day. It reminds us that our Judaism is worth celebrating – for these eight days and every day during the year.

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom!

Thu, July 9 2020 17 Tammuz 5780