22 December 2009

Standing Together

Kol hakavod to the women and men of our congregation who gathered last Shabbat to stand in solidarity with the Women of the Wall in reaction to the arrest of Nofrat Frenkel last month. (See this article from the New York Times on the IRAC site for the details of this month's gathering at the wall in Jerusalem.)

11 December 2009

NOT Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Larry Berman, our bookkeeper, Religious School administrator, and beloved sixth grade teacher brought David Brook's Op-Ed article from today's New York Times to my attention.


I have often reflected on the irony of celebrating Chanukah in a Reform setting, as the FIRST people that the Maccabees fought were the Hellenizing "Reform" Jews of their day. (The other irony is that a holiday commemorating a battle for religious identity and freedom has risen to prominence because of popular pressure to have a Jewish counterbalance for Christmas.)

In a group dedicated to starting a Human Relations Council (or somesuch organization to deal straightforwardly with the problems of prejudice in our towns), I brought this up on Wednesday. I think I shocked the non-Jews, a little, when I compared the Maccabees to the Taliban. David Brooks does the same - almost. And, in a publication which is searchable on the web, I am somewhat hesitant myself. However, I am encouraged by Brooks' contextual framing - Chanukah is a story for adults, about all the complexities of being committed religious individuals in a liberal and progressive society.

After all, it would do well to remember that the TRUE story of Chanukah scared the Talmudic Rabbis so much that they created the miracle of the oil as a substitute. They refused to canonize (make a part of the Holy Scripture) any of the four books of the Maccabees - and we owe the Catholics for their preservation.

Chanukah - it's a lot more than gambling, frying, and getting presents.