I will destroy my enemies by making them my friends
I was surprised to hear Archbishop Justin Welby quote Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. We were standing in the pouring rain at the vigil last Sunday. Together. It was incredibly moving; people who have sustained such loss, such violence, begging us to collaborate, to stand together, to reach out to those around us, to make things safer, not more polarized, for our children. It wasn’t an easy ask, yet Robbie Damelin from Bereaved Families Forum warned the crowd, ‘Don’t take sides. It helps no-one.’ These weren’t easy words to hear: many of us had read the articles in the paper that morning revealing yet more sexually violent atrocities perpetrated on that heinous day of the 7th October. Yet what alternative is there other than to reach for hope and for partners in this hell, both here in our home of the U.K and in Israel and beyond?
Everyone was given a candle and I lit a lantern alongside several other religious leaders who wanted to be there. United synagogue, Liberal, Reform and Masorti standing together with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.
It was the perfect diving board into Chanukah, when we will [re]dedicate ourselves to our Judaism and to our people, as the first Chanukah modelled. I can’t think of a year in my lifetime when Chanukah felt so welcome, so needed and so challenging all at on
ce. We associate the story with tribalism at its most raw, with extremism and military might.
But I want to take a different look. The Hasmoneans, whilst passionate and committed, surprisingly also understood nuance. From their
Greek language, rhetoric and culture, they knew it was integral to their way of life. And the subsequent celebrations of Chanukah understood that innovation and freshness was key. Chanukah is often referred to as a time of התחדשות, of renewal, of not letting our spiritual vitality become stale and uninspired.
This year I hope we let ourselves rededicate to our congregation our Jewish life and our families and do so in a way that the flames of the Chanukiah fill our hearts with hope and light. There is surely no other way.
Please check out each night of lighting planned @FPS:
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