The holiday of Hannukah is over, but its profound message never leaves us. We must stand up for our beliefs. We have had many colonizers over us in Israel – from Babylonians to Assyrians to Greeks to Romans to Ottomans and Brits! And we have always had a remnant population survive. Israel lives within each of us. And we have the blessing of being obligated to the mitzvoth – to putting our Judaism into action. Some of you will read the Elie Wiesel story posted here – a reminder of how seriously we take our tradition. And, as Joel Fagan reminded us on Shabbat morning, how seriously we take our freedom to be Jews both in Israel and across the world.
On Saturday evening I watched a special Zoom presentation. It was the ordination ceremony for class #19 (I was in Class #17). Watching and listening, I was brought back to my own ordination ceremony – and to the wonderful installation celebrations we held here in Victoria. I have the blessing of such joyous memories from those occasions, and I can only hope that the three candidates being ordained this evening will be creating similar memories very shortly.
None of us create such memories on our own. The greatest sadness for us in Covid is that we can feel so alone, separated from each other. Neomi Summers talked about how hard it was to visit with a cold pane of glass between her and a visiting friend – this isn’t who we are and yet, these days, it is. But it is just a pane of glass. As we read our way through the Joseph saga I am struck over and over by the distance – physical, emotional and geographical – that keeps interrupting our story. Joseph feels utterly alone, even as he marries and bears two sons. The indescribable joy of his reunion first with his beloved brother Benyamin, and then with his father is deeply touching. The text tells us all of Egypt heard his cry as he revealed himself as Joseph ben Yaakov to his brothers. I think of stories of reunions of survivors – reunions that have happened even here in Victoria. That power of reunion, especially after tragic separation, moves each one of us. I was speaking with someone this past week about my journey to becoming rabbi, and I said that my joy was shared by so many of my dear family and friends. When one of us achieves our dreams, we all achieve that dream together. As Joseph learned, so do we.
Take care of yourselves, and be safe and dream big.
Love to all,