Two years ago we celebrated that extremely rare convergence of Jewish and civil calendars that invited us to celebrate Chanukah on Thanksgiving. This year the first night of Chanukah falls on Christmas Eve and the last day of Chanukah is January 1st. Our Festival of Light literally brings in the New Year.
We gather for our communal Chanukah celebration at Beth Chaim on Friday, December 30th, at 6 PM. We will light our beautiful Menorah outside on our patio and stay warm with joyous Israeli dancing. We will then move to the warmth of our Sanctuary to share a meal (thanks in advance to our Sisterhood and Brotherhood for the homemade latkes), pizza, more live music, children's performances, and joyful connection with friends. We will also honor our partnerships with other communities of faith who will gather with us to celebrating the world's oldest holiday acknowledging the importance of religious freedom.
Prayer After the Election
Today mourning and celebration commingle.
Jubilation and heartache are juxtaposed
In neighborhoods where lawns proclaimed
Support for different candidates, on Facebook walls
And Twitter streams where clashing viewpoints meet.
Grant us awareness of each others’ hopes and fears
Even across the great divides of red state and blue state,
Urban and rural. Open us to each others’ needs.
Purify our hearts so that those who rejoice do not gloat
And those who grieve do not despair.
Strengthen our ability to be kind to one another
And to ourselves. Awaken in us the yearning
To build a more perfect union. Let us roll up our sleeves
Whether today we feel exultation or sorrow, and together
Shape a nation of welcome and compassion.
Let ours be a land where no one need fear abuse
Or retribution, where every diversity is celebrated,
Where those who are most vulnerable are protected.
May bigotry and violence vanish like smoke.
May compassion prevail from sea to shining sea.
By Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Written for (and first published at) Kol ALEPH, the blog of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
About Beth Chaim
Beth Chaim Congregation is Contra Costa County’s vital Jewish community, providing a vibrant, embracing, enriching environment for over 500 residents in the Tri-Valley.
We are a community that offers worship, celebration, youth education, community service, continuing adult education, and a portfolio of enriching events and programs.
But we are also more than merely a synagogue, and even more than a religious school and a center for life-cycle events. We are a community — one in which our members make a real difference, and one that in return makes a real difference in the lives of our members.
A Personal Welcome to Beth Chaim
The traditional words of welcome in the Jewish tradition are “Baruch Habah B’Shem Adonai” which is usually translated as, “Blessed Are You in the Name of God.” I prefer the translation, “It is a blessing that you have come, to make us all aware that it is through relationship that we are brought into the presence of God.” Our people have always known that one of the most vital spiritual avenues – ways we can experience the mystery that is God -- is through relationship.