Cantor’s Column – December 2021

Rededication and Resolution

Cantor Ilan Davidson

As we celebrate these times of Hanukkah and the approaching secular New Year, it is a time for rededication, reflection, and resolution. As our ancestors 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 wanted to be more religious, while others wanted 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, the news shows more and more people 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, while defensiveness has become the theme of the present. 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 probably never be a part of, were probably just as guilty of their own hypocrisy, putting fences around the very laws they wanted to uphold, while accusing others of breaking them.

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, while integrating into our society, we become successful contributors who have not had to sell their souls to get there. Indeed, the very foundation of our Reform movement is a foundation of informed choice and integration, rather than blind faith and following or complete denial of our roots. For these reasons, Hanukkah and New Years 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 2021 and enter 2022 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 and recommit to ourselves. As we prepare to enter into 2022, may we all find more time in our lives for family, community, and self, while always remembering to allow God and Judaism a vote in our life decisions, a place at our table, and a committed section on our calendars.