The history of Hanukkah squeezes us between two competing narratives: one of idealization
Every day is Labor Day. Jewish tradition expounds the importance of work and those who do it. Even God worked for six days and then rested on Shabbat. The Jewish vision of the messianic era is not an age of idleness, but rather one in which swords become plowshares.
One of my dear friends and colleagues, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, has for several years now challenged us to blog Exodus. She has come up with daily themes.
Israel is the new frontier of Reform Judaism. Since the 1990s the number of Progressive/Reform congregations and minyanim has doubled from 15 to 30, many of them served by native Israeli rabbis ordained at our Movement seminary in Jerusalem. Five thousand families send their children to Reform-affiliated schools, and last year a record 50,000 Israelis attended Progressive High Holy Day services throughout the country.
We took advantage of our empty nest status to take a week-long trip to Spain this month, the first time in almost 20 years that we could travel at a time when schools weren’t on vacation.
This week’s Torah portion, B’haalot’cha, begins with the instructions for the lifting up of “the lamps,” haneirot, to illuminate the Tabernacle. The initial letter of the word, “lamp,” neir, is nun.