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Chanukah Day 4: Light from a Humanistic perspective

Chag sameach! Every day this Chanukah, we’ve been sharing readings on the theme of light from books we published. You can find the previous days here:

Day 1: Ra’u Or: Essays in Honor of Dr. Ora Horn Preuser edited by Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser

Day 2: Everything Thaws by R.B. Lemberg

Day 3: Thirty-Two Gates of Wisdom: Awakening Through Kabbalah by Rabbi DovBer Pinson

Today we have something from Here is Our Light: Humanistic Jewish Holiday and Life-Cycle Liturgy for Inspiration and Reflection – Celebrating 50 years of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, edited by Miriam S. Jerris and Sheila Malcolm. Humanistic Judaism approaches Jewish tradition from a non-theistic perspective, so that people who do not believe in G-d can also feel included in community observances. The book surveys major Jewish lifecycle events and holidays, and features rituals, songs, blessings (strictly non-theistic ones!), readings and more.

Light: Energy, Emblem, and Expression (Chanukah) by Rabbi Denise Handlarski

The theme for this evening is light: energy, emblem, and expression. Light is not only a form of energy, but one of the reasons to light lights at this dark time of year is to restore our own energy. Similarly, the energy of our community is restored with the contributions and new energies that new members bring.

Lights are an emblem – of both Shabbat and Chanukah, of tradition (many of us associate the glow of candles with our own Jewish upbringings or home celebrations), of community – as lights are often lit in the company of others, and of continuity. We light candles to signify a passing of the torch l’dor v’dor from generation to generation. We mark traditions and celebrations through the sharing of light.

Lights are also an opportunity for expression. In the Humanistic Jewish tradition, we not only offer a blessing on lights, but we also offer a dedication – a wish or an intention for each candle to represent our hopes, yearnings, or thoughts. The word Chanukah means dedication, and so as we dedicate the candles we will dedicate ourselves anew to our Jewish community, heritage, peoplehood, and our commitment to Tikkun Olam – repairing the world, and respect for all people.

…New members are a source of light to us. They provide us with light as energy, emblem, and expression. They are the new energy that continues to make Oraynu Congregation dynamic, stimulating, and fulfilling. THey are the emblem of our continued success in finding a Jewish home for those who want to live culturally, meaningfully, and authentically as Humanistic Jews. And they are the expression of our hopes that our community, movement, traditions and celebrations will continue long into the future.