Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hannukah: Miracles, Light, Oil, and Rededication

I'm not a Jew. An ancestor of mine, Solomon Israel, was. (How could he not be, with a name like that.) I do feel a special connection to the Jewish people, though. I always have.

I guess the Jewish part in me is strong and wants to shine through in many ways. I like to cook traditional Jewish foods. We've participated in some Passover feasts and are always left feeling edified and enlightened. I've been searching to buy a Star of David necklace to wear for a long time. Where I live, it's been difficult. Over the years, I've read anything I can get my hands on related to Jewish culture, especially the Holocaust. I honor the sacred memory of its dead and those survivors who have shared their stories with the world...Never to forget....

Just thinking about my love for all things Judaica, in the last few weeks our film viewing has been focused here, especially. Not planned, but I think there's a thread somewhere. We watched Fiddler on the Roof last night. Last week it was a film called Arranged which tells the story of an Orthodox Jewish and Muslim young women who strike a very unique and close friendship during the time when their families are trying to arrange their marriages. We all loved the film. The day before Thanksgiving, we watched The Chosen. A tear- jerker, for sure. The book is a classic and well worth reading. I love anything by Chaim Potok. I've read most of his stuff.

My oldest son Gary, especially, has developed a love and interest in Israel and the Jews. For part of his Middle East studies major (Arabic is his focus) and study abroad experience last year, he fulfilled his dream of spending two weeks in the Holy Land. He not only shares with me his thoughts and insights about the Jews and Israel, but has also graced our home with meaningful objects he picked up on his trip there, including a couple of Menorahs.

Yesterday, Isaac and I read a children's book about the history and meaning of Hanukkah. We've been so busy these last few nights that lighting the Menorah has not happened. (I think Gary has lit the one in his room.) Maybe we will tomorrow.

Gary found this article written by a Jewish rabbi and I think it shares a good perspective on the holiday. Maybe you, too, can take something from this festival and think about how to apply and appreciate it's meaning in your life.

Hanukkah is about something more important than dedication
rededication. In our lives, what we do once is hardly as important as what we
do over and over again. The great rabbinic authority Joseph Caro asks, if
Hanukkah is about a miracle, and the oil which was only supposed to last one day
lasted eight, then why don’t we celebrate Hanukkah for seven days? After all,
the first day of the oil burning was no miracle!

But of course the greatest miracle was the resolution to rededicate.
After persecution and all the trials of life in those days, when the Temple was
defiled and the people forbidden to practice Judaism, Jews still clung fast to
their faith. On that first day beleaguered Jews still wanted to light the
Menorah. God’s miracle came later. The miracle of the Jewish people, of faith,
came first.

On this festival of lights, we should remember the miraculous renewal
of passion, of love, of devotion to God and the Jewish people. “Hanukkah” is
rededication. The drive to rededicate that which has fallen into disuse is
profoundly important. Can we see sparks of holiness beneath the dust of a
neglected prayer book? Does our Hanukkah Menorah glow, however dim and distant the light?

Rededication — that is the miracle. The world is rife with worthy
causes we have taken up with enthusiasm and then abandoned. Rededicate yourself to repairing God’s anguished world. If we manage that, the oil will burn for countless nights to come.


  1. Dave's school is doing Fiddler on the Roof in a couple of months. I'm sure we'll all be singing "If I Were a Rich Man" all the time.

  2. You know we do not homeschool but I can't help but think about how much I would learn if we did. Just the other night I was helping Tori with her history homework - I was amazed at how little I had remembered. I think it is great that you are embracing your heritage.

  3. I love this, Emily. Love it, love it! One of the many things I love about you is that you embrace other cultures. I will let you know if I see a Star of David necklace, as I do now and again.

  4. Beautiful journey into your heritage!Yhe begining of miracle are rarely notice by us like that first day. Miracles start well before they flourish and bloomed in our understanding...usually with that first flicker of faith and desire to believe. Thanks for inspirition to redicate oneself. That is an underlying purpose of Christmas. I love Craig for all this richness on his life.

  5. Great Blog Emily. I love reading it.

  6. Thanks for sharing !
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