I hope you enjoy my thoughts and musings about Jewish music, worship, and liturgy, my love for God's creation, and my hopes for humankind. Please feel free to share your comments.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hanukkah: A Dedication to Light and Learning

December finds us in the midst of the Hebrew month of Kislev and looking ahead to the joyous Festival of Lights, Hanukkah.  One of my favorite holidays in the liturgical calendar, Hanukkah is a time for families to come together -- sharing games, songs, comfort food, and fun. The word that we commonly spell “HANUKKAH” comes from the Hebrew root letters chet - nun - kaf.  The combination of these letters have two basic connotations: to dedicate and to educate or to train.  We use the word Hanukkah in the context of “dedication.”  As the story goes, our temple in Jerusalem was desecrated by the Syrian Greeks.  After the victory over the mighty Syrian army by the small group of Maccabees, the Jewish people cleansed the Temple of idols and purified it again, dedicating it to the worship of the One God.  It is this dedication of the Maccabees that helped to preserve our unique people to this day.  What of our dedication?  How many of us show such dedication to our Jewishness today?  Do we celebrate and defend our uniqueness as Jews?  What of the other meaning of Hanukkah—“to educate or to train?”  Are we committed to educating ourselves and our children as Jews?  It is my hope as we kindle the flames of our Hanukkah candles that we dedicate ourselves to keep alive the flame of Jewish commitment and learning.

Chag urim sameiach!

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