January 22, 2013 | 11th Sh’vat 5773
Temple Or Hadash Social Action was extremely busy this fall/winter. Our project theme was Just Enough, Just In Time. We focused our efforts on the homeless adults and needy children in our own community.
We wanted to contribute items that were essential to survival for the homeless and joyful items to help make the children’s holiday season a bit brighter.
Our outdoor clothing and gear drive for the Homeless produced a huge amount of warm clothing, camping gear and sleeping bags. When we delivered our donations to the Homeless Gear personnel, they told us “This is just in time. We need these things for our drive around outreach TONIGHT.” Little did we know that our Just Enough, Just In Time mission was so literal.
Our second project focused on Children in Need. This was a project lead by our students in Religious School under the direction of their teachers, Leah Schaer and Renee Cohn-Jones. They were assisted by Kara Deming and her outstanding leadership and compassion. The children collected many wonderful items: stuffed animals, toys, writing pads, Crayons and pencils and toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Their goal was to prepare 36 string backpacks of gifts for 5 – 8 and 9 –12 year olds. However, their success at encouraging the congregation to donate was so overwhelming they were able to give much more to the Murphy Center. When the Center opens for Children in Need on December 8, many children less fortunate than our own will have a brighter holiday because our children (and our adults who support them so generously) understand and truly live our tradition of Tikkun Olam.
Thank you for your contributions that made these projects so successful. And a special thank you to Leah, Renee and Kara for their leadership in our projects’ success.
Sunday late afternoon, the gathering dusk taking into its arms the it the last moments of the eighth day of Hanukkah, I found myself sitting in a spacious room in Denver’s Mizel Museum, surrounded by a riot of Jewish artifacts, old photographs, the light of a ner tamid winking at me from above an enormous, colorful ark. It was the end of Hanukkah, the end of a full weekend. And all of us, you may recall, were still reeling from the unspeakable news out of Newtown, Connecticut.
I was fortunate that afternoon to have found my way to a Jewish meditation group practice, 90 minutes of a little learning and a healthy helping of silence. It was just what I needed. What can we say in the face of such tragedy? God wept with us that weekend.
Our teacher, Rabbi Stephen Booth-Nadav, set up his Hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah), filled it with candles, and without blessing—we had already blessed the eighth night lights the previous evening—lit them all. “For eight days we have received the gift of this miraculous light,” he began. “But now the Hanukkah lights are going out, and we must consider how we will carry that light forward, out into the world.” He instructed us to meditate, as we watched the candles burn down, fading with the day itself, upon how we might now become sources of light ourselves, living Hanukkiyot, walking through the world spreading light to those who need it, particularly the grieving parents, schoolchildren, and citizens of Newtown.
Rabbi Booth-Nadav spoke about the single small jar of pure oil the Maccabees found in the defiled temple, how it looked like it would only burn for a single day, but instead it kept the Temple lamps burning for eight days, long enough for more oil to be made. “What if each one of us had eight times as much potential, eight times as much energy and light, than we realize?”
In the aftermath of tragedy, there is sometimes little to say, but much to do. We must work to ensure that the hurting, lonely, and scared among us get the attention and care they need before it’s too late. We should take a serious look at the cost to our society of allowing free access to automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
The problems are immense, and our light seems so small. But we know the miracle of Hanukkah: the victory of the weak over the strong and the few over the many. We are eight times more powerful than we realize. “Not by might and not by power but by spirit,” the prophet proclaimed, shall we realize our dreams of a just and peaceful society.
As the memory of the candles’ warm glow recedes in the cold glare of January, a new secular year, let us recall our strength, put the light of Hanukkah dedication to work in our own world.
I will keep you all apprised of my own efforts to be the Hanukkah lights in 2013, and I hope you will do the same. Perhaps soon there will be congregational actions to report. Try one, or more, of the following actions, and be the light in our world:
Buy only fair trade and/or organic chocolate and coffee to minimize the chance that you are consuming the fruits of slave labor.
Purchase as much food as possible locally, and find out as much as you can about the production chain of the meat, eggs, milk, and produce you buy.
Pay a visit to your grocery store manager to share your concerns about slave labor in your food. Click here for a sample letter to leave behind.
Learn more about the problem of slavery and human trafficking here.
Join one of the many organizations working toward, or sign on to a petition like this one advocating for, sensible gun control laws. Call or write to President Obama and your federal and state representatives to tell them how you feel.
Join with the National Alliance for Mental Illness (nami.org) to advocate for better funding for public mental health care, and for access to care for all who are suffering mental illness.
At the start of 2013, as we emerge from the stunned silence of tragedy and injustice, may our actions speak louder than any words, and may our dedication to healing and justice in our world carry our efforts farther than we could.
gam zeh ya’avor,
Here are the dates for Mah Jongg from January through May, 2013.
All meetings occur at Rivendell School (1200 Prospect at Prospect and Riverside) from 12:30 to 2:30 pm.
Everyone is welcome, regardless of experience:)
Please contact Patzi Goldberg with any questions at email@example.com.
January 13 and 27
February 10 and 24
March 10 and 24
April 14 and 28
The calendar has been updated with some updates and events after September.