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A Message from Rabbi Steven Schwartzman

Precisely two thousand, one hundred eighty-five years ago, the Maccabees won their victory and rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem. That's the origin of Hanukkah.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The holiday, of course, focuses on the victory, not on the challenges that preceded it, starting with the looting of the Temple and the outlawing of Judaism three long years before.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

What was it like for our ancestors living through those difficult times? The Temple wasn't just a place where sacrifices were offered. It was the religious and national center of the entire people. And with its defilement, the sacrifices that brought atonement could not take place. For three long years.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

And it might have seemed that Judaism itself was done for.                                                                                                                                                                                          

But they persevered, and through their determination, eventually prevailed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 In our day, as we live through what we hope are the last months of the pandemic, we, too feel in exile from each other and from our sanctuary. But, difficult as I know it is for us all, we know that it won't be long now until we can reclaim our sanctuary on Shabbat and holidays, and reclaim personal contact with each other.                                                                                                     

 Meantime, we are blessed to live at a time when we can be in touch with each other through technology. Every single day of the week, you can join your friends at Beth Shalom: via Zoom at minyans every weekday morning and now on Saturday night for Havdalah, and via livestream on Shabbat mornings. You aren't alone, and you don't need to feel alone.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Join us for some of those services, and yes, you can shmooze before and after. Join us on Sunday mornings for our new Learner's Minyan - it's regular minyan, plus our bar and bat mitzvah kids and parents, and we go slower and learn about the prayers, why we pray, and how to pray as Jews.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Join us on Saturday nights for Havdalah.                                                                                                                                                                                        

And join us on the first night of Hanukkah, where we will light our menorahs together and learn about Hanukkah as we follow the detective story of how Hanukkah came to be.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Our Nefesh Project at Beth Shalom is all about helping us all connect with each other and with Judaism. We don't have to fight off foreign armies. We just have to remain dedicated to each other and to Judaism, which is what Hanukkah - which means dedication - is all about.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 PS - if you are feeling lonely, or if you know someone who is, drop me a line or give me a call. 


Rabbi Steven Schwarzman




Mon, 25 January 2021 12 Shevat 5781