15/16 December 2023, 4 Tevet 5784

And just like that, our 70th year of celebration came to an end last Sunday. We had the most magnificent but warm and inclusive inter-generational quiz hosted by Paul and Sharon Silver-Myer. It was a delight and the good will in the room from our members and guests was palpable.

It needn’t have fallen on Chanukah but it did and by doing so, it reminded me of the teaching by the 12th century Maimonides (Hilchot Chanukah 4:1) who said about this minor festival that it is incumbent on all Jewish households to light one Chanukiah. He then continues to say that for those who want to fulfil this commandment more intensely, more enthusiastically, hamhader et hamitzvah, then every member of the home should light their own Chanukiah. We Progressive Jews always have the choice to consider this instruction to intensify our mitzvot but last Sunday we lit many, many lights here at FPS. It was, both literally and symbolically, a powerful reminder that all 90 of us representing our congregation cared deeply about it and happily  [re]dedicated ourselves, as the word Chanukah means, to our community and our Jewish way of being. It was a wonderful moment, as were these past days of Chanukah – that light in the darkness for us all. What a wonderful way to end the year. How far we have come, in what we mean to each other and how more folk are now choosing to dedicate themselves to our house, our home, our synagogue. And how well we have done in raising funds for the [re]dedication of the building.

Wishing you a continuation of this pride and dedication that Chanukah encourages. We Jews are still here, and this minor festival that comes from the Book of Maccabees, not even in the Tanakh but the hidden Apocrypha, has come to mean much to us. A complicated story with the miracle of oil added only by the rabbis of the Talmud 500 years later. We are reminded of human agency, this year of all years: to stand up for ourselves and for others always; to be empowered and emboldened and dedicated.