The Chanukkah we know – the Festival of Lights – comes from the word chanukkah that has two meanings. One is learning or instruction (chinukh). The other is “dedication,” as in dedicating a home (chanukkat ha-bayit).
It’s a fitting time for us – me as your rabbi, and you reading this message – to re-dedicate ourselves to building the home that is our sacred Shul by the Sea.
Chanukkah legend evokes re-dedication after the Temple in Jerusalem was ransacked. Invaders degraded the Temple with intention to mock it and destroy Jewish life. The “re-dedication” began with a remnant bit of pure olive oil that lit the menorah, and the light lasted. It still shines.
Chanukkah became a popular holiday to honor the zeal of Jewish passion, the light that can pierce even the gloomiest darkness, and the re-dedication of homes, spiritual paths, relationships and more.
Today’s TBE situation couldn’t be more different from the Temple defiled in ancient days. But re-dedication isn’t limited to recovery after loss (though history has had plenty of that).
No. Re-dedication is a spiritual act of choice. It’s the power of commitment. It’s the inward call to agree again, invoke the power and blessings of the sacred, and go all-in to manifest those blessings anew. We re-dedicate sometimes when times are dark, and sometimes when times are beautifully bright.
For all of us at TBE, now is a re-dedication time. At Rabbi Shohama’s tribute event on November 24, you gathered around me, hand to shoulder, and re-dedicated us to each other. Like the ancient Temple menorah that shined with remnant olive oil, we re-dedicated my service as your rabbi and your love of our community. We re-dedicated ourselves and each other to the legacy we continue to bring forward in light, truth, joy and love.
From my heart to yours, I thank you for your faith and trust, for the great blessing of serving this community, and for sharing your own light as we move forward together.
How will we do that? By continuing our legacy of music, spirit, angels, caring, giving and serving. By pitching in together. By learning, and by dedicating our learning. By committing to do one more mitzvah. By daring to try in spiritual life one thing we think we lack the capacity to do.
Re-dedicate. Light the inner candles, then the outside ones as a beacon and tribute. Happy Chanukkah / Happy Re-Dedication.