Cantor’s Column – December 2017 – January 2018

Re-dedication and Resolution

Cantor Ilan Davidson

As we enter into the time of Hanukkah and the secular New Year, it is a time for re-dedication, reflection, and resolution. As the Maccabees celebrated the first Hanukkah, they were well aware that they needed to rededicate themselves to their service to the Temple, but perhaps more importantly, they realized a need to rededicate themselves to community. In those days, we had just survived a civil unrest that fractured our community. Some wanting to be more religious, while others wanting to adopt the ways of the secular world in which they lived. In fact, the true war of Hanukkah was between zealous dedication to Judaism and assimilation into an immoral, secular society.

It is not unlike the world we live in today. Every day, we watch on the news as more and more people are accused of immoral acts, and just when we expect society to lash back at them, others come out to say it’s not a big deal and happened so long ago. Accountability seems a virtue of the past at times, while defensiveness has become the theme of the present and future. On other channels are the religious zealots, who fight for their own morality while often shrouded in their own hypocrisy. Likewise, the zealous Maccabees of our story, the ones we celebrate, but would likely never be a part of, were possibly just as guilty of their own hypocrisy, putting fences around the very laws they wanted to uphold, while accusing others of breaking those laws.

What lies in the middle is a fundamentally simple, yet complicated answer…integration. When we are capable of holding onto the values at the very root of our Torah, we can integrate into our society and we become successful contributors. Indeed, the very foundation of our Reform movement is a foundation of informed choice and integration, rather than blind faith. For these reasons, Hanukkah and the secular New Year are two very important, confluent holidays.

Hanukkah reminds us to rededicate ourselves to OUR temple, while the secular New Year invites us to reflect on 2017 and enter into 2018 resolved to do more for ourselves, our families, our community, our nation, and our world. We have an opportunity to start at home, learning more about our Judaism and celebrating more with our Temple Beth El Community, while branching out with our values and beliefs to help others.

As we prepare to enter into 2018, may we all find more time in our lives for family, community, and self. May we always remember to allow God and Judaism a vote in our life decisions, a place at our table, and a committed section on our calendars.