“In These Times”
VOL. 50 NO. 4
Aliza Goland, Executive Director Marcy Goldberg, Director of Education Donna Becker, ECC Director
Peggy Frank, President, Board of Directors Alan Greenbaum, Rabbi Emeritus
Andrew Straus, Rabbi David Shukiar, Cantor
From the Rabbi’s Desk
I t’s cold and dark, and (hopefully) rainy outside. Our normal and natural desire is to hunker down, to stay at home, and to try to hibernate. Who wants to deal with the world at such a dark time? And maybe that is ok. The question is not should we hunker down, but how do we use this “quiet time.” Winter should not be a time of darkness and decay, but rather a time for hope and planning and looking forward to the spring, to re- birth and renewal. First, as the New Year approaches, remember to count your blessings; and let loved ones know that they are blessings in your life. Bless your chil- dren, your spouse or partner, your friends. Appreciate your home and make it a sanctuary; a safe place for you and your family and friends. Bless God for the food you eat and the beauty in your life. And don’t forget to remind yourself that you too are a blessing. As you count your blessings, remember those in our commu- nity who are not so blessed. Do a mitzvah. Join our Random Acts of Torah campaign, such as volunteering for the Winter Shelter program! After appreciating your blessings, winter is a great time to slow down and spend time with family and friends, talking and planning for the future. It is a great time for personal growth; to reflect upon promises made at Rosh Hashanah, to remember Shabbat, to participate in the life of the Jewish community, to attend an adult enrichment program, or Shabbat morning Torah study. But remember, all of this takes time and patience.
Our tradition sends us two great holiday reminders that we must use winter to look toward the future. First, at the beginning of winter comes Chanukah. Around the darkest time of the year, we light candles as a reminder that in the darkness we must light the candle of hope. The real miracle of Chanukah is not that the oil last- ed for eight days, but rather that the Maccabees had enough faith in themselves and God to light the oil, even though they thought there was enough for only one day. They believed that the future would be better and that the light would banish the darkness Secondly, towards the end of winter comes Tu b’She- vat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. (Tu b’Shevat will be on February 11.) We often think of Tu b’shevat as the birthday of the trees. Tradition teaches us that in the nature cycle, this is when the rains in Israel begin to change from the heavy rains of winter to the lighter rains of spring. It is also believed that this is when the sap begins to rise in the trees, beginning the “cycle of growth” all over again. So too for us, just when we think we have had enough of the cold, dark and rain, we celebrate nature, and our renewal all over again. So during this month, grant yourself some patience. Think about and plan for you and your family’s spring – your next cycle of renewal. And know that out of the creative darkness of winter, spring will come.
Rabbi Andrew Straus
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