23/24 December 2022, 30 Kislev 5783

Chanukah is such an interesting time, recalling a time of restrictions and closure. Here’s a verse from the Book of Maccabees not easily accessible as it’s in the Apocrypha.

”And whosoever was found with any book of the covenant, or if anyone kept the commandments, the king’s edict was that they should put them to death”. (Book One 1:55)

Religious freedom and a sense of confidence in our differences is the mark of a healthy and respectful society. We get to celebrate with enthusiasm how much better things are for so many people and peoples now. An American friend was visiting last week for the first time in two decades and as we drove down North Hill in Highgate towards East Finchley station she marvelled at the lit Chanukiah that stands proudly there. This was not the UK she expected to see.

Divali lights, before the Christmas ones. Eid Mubarak signs in the windows of Tescos and their delivery vans, all this is progress of freedom of expression and the individual rights of each of us.

This is what we teach our children, that their religious freedom is only as precious as their neighbour’s. That’s what Chanukah reminds us. And I am grateful for that aide memoire. And the fact there is much more work to do. I saw a post on social media which offered a challenge so apt for Chanukah;

You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.

And so this festival of Dedication invites us to do just that.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach and join us for Latkes and lighting this Friday night and not too late to book in for a Shabbat lunch on Saturday 24th and early lighting.