Kislev 5778

Chanukah – A Festival of Rededication

(Photo Credit: The Jewish Federations)
As Kislev begins our thoughts turn to Chanukah: the Festival of Lights. While Chanukah is probably best known for its twinkling candles in the Chanukiah, the name of the holiday itself has nothing to say about candles, the miracle of the oil or the menorah! The name “Chanukah” comes from the Hebrew word meaning “dedication”. Chanukah was first and foremost the festival of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, which the Greek armies had defiled and which the Maccabees cleaned up and rededicated to God.

Let’s look at this concept of rededication: What is it all about? At that time (around 135 BCE) the center of Judaism was the Temple, and connecting to God through offering sacrifices at the Temple was the unifying purpose of Jewish ritual and practice. By cleaning up the Temple after its destruction by the Greeks, the Jewish People reconnected to its ultimate purpose and made a conscious choice to live out the mitzvot in this particular way. It was a recommitment to our central values and practices.

Today, of course, we don’t have a Temple to recommit to, and Jewish life has evolved to look very different. But as Jewish community professionals and educators, Chanukah reminds us that this is a time when we can remind and recommit ourselves to the values and ideals that drive us; we can rededicate ourselves and our communities to our purpose and our goals.

The notion of rededication pushes us to ask ourselves – Why we do what we do? And what is our ultimate purpose? Why give our time and energy to the Jewish community? Why is what we do important?

Here at Yesod we believe that serving the Jewish People, whether through volunteering or paid work, is enormously valuable and that those who have chosen to contribute to their communities are doing holy work. We are here to support you, and so we encourage you this Chanukah to ask yourselves and your colleagues about what motivates and inspires you and what drives you to work on behalf of your Jewish community. For some ideas on how to do this, and for lots of other resources about Chanukah, see the Resources section below and on the Yesod website.

Happy Kislev and Chanukah Sameach!




General Chanukah Resources

For excellent resources about Chanukah including how to celebrate and the lots of great ideas for activities, check out the resources in our archive. Don’t forget to listen to David Levin-Kruss’s 15-minute podcast on the meaning of Chanukah.

Ideas and Resources about Purpose and Values

(Photo Credit: Saloona)


View Resource of the Month Archive for resources posted in previous months.