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The Rabbi's Message for December

With Chanukah so close to Christmas this year (the week before), I suspect we will feel more than the usual pressure to “compete” and make our holiday just as festive, just as special, just as BIG. It shouldn't and doesn't have to BE. Most non-Jewish folks think it's our "equivalent” of Christmas but actually, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, or Pesach would be a closer equivalent. So it is years like this that I counsel to make Chanukah more meaningful, not more commercial. Here are my eight ways to make Chanukah even more special for 2022. I hope you find them helpful and inspiring, even if you don’t do them all! I’ve taken eight themes of the festival and turned them into ways to use Chanukah as a springboard for meaningful celebrations. 

1. Miracles: each night of Chanukah, mention one "every-day" miracle in your life.

2.  HealingOn Chanukah, the Temple was "healed" from it's defilement. Visit someone in the hospital or who is ill at home, or an elderly shut-in, and share Chanukah with them.

3. Independence:  Chanukah represents Jewish independence being regained in the Land of Israel. Take this week to plan a trip to Israel, watch a film about Israel, read a book about Israel, stay abreast of politics from reliable sources.

4. Dedication: Put up a mezuzah in your home where there isn’t one. Make a homemade kippah to wear while lighting the menorah or to wear at shul.

5. Education:  Take one night of Chanukah to explain its significance to your non-Jewish friends, and invite them over for latkes and dreidels.

6. Remember that Chanukah is about shedding light into the darkness. Reach out to a friend who could use your help. Babysit your neighbour's kids. Walk your friend's dog. Do something to lighten someone's load.

7. Remember that Chanukah is about fighting back. Write an op-ed if you think Israel is being unfairly maligned in the press. Speak out about anti-Semitism especially on social media. Talk to your child’s school to see what they are doing about bullying, especially among LGBTQ+ youth.

8. The eight presents thing: if you do it in your home, make it meaningful. Make each night a different "theme" so that materialism is kept in check. Give a books night, a board games night. Give homemade goodies. Give tzedakah one night as “give back.”

May
your menorah in your window be an affirmation of Jewish pride for the world to see. May you celebrate the festival of light in a way that lights up your own heart. And may we all learn to recognize the light which comes from so many different sources in our world.

If for any reason you do not own a Chanukiah please be in touch with me at rabbi@cityshul.com by December 5.  I have donated Chanukiot for anyone who needs one! 

Chanukah sameach to everyone! 

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Tue, December 6 2022 12 Kislev 5783