Archive for December, 2008


December 8, 2008

December 2008

This year, Chanukah begins on December 21, the Winter Solstice, the day of the year marked by the fewest hours of daylight.  (If you follow Shabbat candle lighting times, you know this isn’t quite true, but it’s a nice idea…)  What could be more appropriate for a celebration of light?  Could there be a better time to light candles and recall the hope that kept the first Chanukah lights glowing?  A better time to sit back and take pleasure in the flickering flames?

Chanukah is also a time for rededication.  As our ancestors did for their desecrated temple, this is a time to rededicate ourselves to Judaism.  As the story of Judah and the Macabees reminds us, “throughout the ages Jews have succeeded in maintaining their beliefs against numerous attempts to forcibly change them, often at great cost to themselves.”  Today, it seems that the greatest threats to our commitment are internal, not external.  Like most Jews throughout the world today, we live in a country where we are free to practice Judaism anyway we choose.

Is it still necessary to light the candles in our windows as a public display of our Jewishness?
Must we abstain from all Christmas celebrations to avoid threats of assimilation?
What kind of rededication will you enact this year?

An article in Tikkun Magazine suggests that “Chanukah represents the triumph of idealistic non-conformity.”  Family and friends have often accused me of making choices that challenge dominant cultural norms.  It’s true, I pride myself on making choices about how I spend my time and money not based on the fashion of the times or own the expectations others have for me, but on my ever-changing sense of what is right, for me and for the world, based on my own knowledge and experiences.  This Chanukah, I see that rebellion and self-determination as Jewish dedication.

This Chanukah, I also celebrate accepting the position of Assistant Chaplain for Jewish Life at Ohio Wesleyan as a form of rededication.  The job will provide means for me to rededicate myself to the culture and traditions I was raised with; to find new meaning and purpose for them in my life today, in the Midwest.  How will you mark Chanukah this year?