Tonight we celebrate the 7th night of Chanukah. It has been a blessing and a delight to share this time in community with all of you.
If you have not yet attended Chanukah, Oh Hanukka!, our eight night progressive Zoom Shul celebration, I encourage you to bring your menorah and log on tonight and tomorrow, at 5:30 pm. It is not too late to join the party!
Together, despite all the obstacles before us, we have gathered each night to light and bless our candles, to sing, to storytell, to enjoy each other’s talents and gifts. How magical it has been to see the Zoom squares light up and glow, a little brighter each night, as the candles increase.
It feels a little like the Hanukkah story itself. There are forces out in the world right now (Covid, natural disaster, social unrest, etc) that could easily disrupt our way of life, our traditions. It would be very easy to sit back and say okay Jewish community, we’ll see each other when the Pandemic is over and it’s safe to meet in the synagogue. In this way we would be allowing a looming power to rule over us, to dictate how we behave, and potentially destroy our rituals and customs.
But our Maccabean impulse is to stand up and resist that type of disruption and destruction to our beautiful traditions. So we find another way. Through another kind of Miracle, the Zoom Room, we click “Join Meeting” and suddenly, we are all together. And the guitar playing and familiar songs fill our homes. In solidarity, we bring the menorah, the symbol of the miracle and our dedication to our people. We recite the ancient blessings, the holiness of Hebrew prayer elevating our experience. We spend time together, even though we are not in the same physical location.
What this time has taught us, and what Chanukah 5781 (2020) has brought us, is a spectacular realization. In addition to the physical temple, our homey, hamish synagogue on Hemlock street in Chico, we have created another spiritual sanctuary. This temple, the one we create beyond time and space, cannot be destroyed or desecrated. As Jews, we will always find a way to pray, to sing, to celebrate, to study. This is woven into the Hanukkah story. This is woven into our ancestral story. What a cause for celebration!
L’chaim and Chag Urim Sameach!
Blessed our we to celebrate this festival of illumination!