Happy Chanukah to all, from Ahavas Chesed Congregation!
We call to mind the most important of all wishes; freedom for all to worship, security to gather as family and friends, safety to live in peace, honorable work and earning legitimate income, a sense of community whereby we gain a sense of belonging and the opportunity to share concern and material goods with people in need.
Chanukah symbolizes all of these needs.The Hasmoneans (better name than Maccabees) strove to secure the rights and privileges of the ancient Judeans without sacrificing their religious and cultural identities on the bed of ‘just getting by’. In the face of tremendous cultural and political pressure by assimilationist Jews who wished to evaporate Jewish traditions of Shabbat, Jewish names for their children, Jewish worship, eating kosher food, marking Jewish holidays and Torah study, the Hasmoneans fought to preserve Jewish identity- the Jewish identity which we exercise today. If we do exercise our Jewishness then the sacrifices of life made by the Hasmoneans mattered. The question before us today is still as relevant as the challenge posed by assimilationist Jews of 2,100 years ago- will we live as Jews or will we fade from reality?
Chanukah celebrates the preservation of identity, security, safety, Torah study, Tzedakah, Shabbat and Jewish communal activism. Chanukah is not limited to 8 days. Chanukah is for everyday!
Rabbi Steve Silberman