The Festival of Lights
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, December 12. RSVPs will be required; if you are not a member, click here to send in your name, address, and number of attendees.
MEMBERS: Please submit your RSVP online through the member portal after November 11.
Our celebration in 5774:
- November 30th at 5:00
- Bridgeport Building
Hanukkah means ‘dedication’. Each year, we take this opportunity to dedicate those students who are beginning Jewish education. This year, we will be having their dedication at Nashira.
This year, we will sing songs, and listen to the story of Hanukkah. Then it’s time for the party! We’ll light candles, eat latkes and spin the dreidel.
Adults: be prepared for the return of the Ultimate Dreidel contest and (new this year) a challenging game of Jewpardy written by our 4th-6th graders. Do you have what it takes?
A Note from the Rabbi
Hag orot sameakh – happy Festival of Lights! There are some who assume that Hannukah is “the Jewish Christmas”. But it is not.
True, both Christmas and Hannukah share common pre-Christian and pre-Jewish roots which respond to the darkness of the shortest days of the year by celebrating light. But our interpretation of those lights carries its own distinct narrative, in the story of a small guerilla band of Jewish fighters (whom we know as the Maccabees) fighting for their right to be religiously different from the dominant society – Greek Hellenism – which threatened to homogenize us Jews out of existence.
The name Hannukah, “dedication”, refers to the high point of the ancient story: the Maccabees liberate the Temple from Greek occupation, cleanse it of Greek ritual and Greek gods, and rededicate it to its Jewish purpose.
The real story of Hannukah, you see, is miles away from dreidles, gelt, gifts, latkes and the miracle of the oil. We have a chance to remind ourselves of the primary meaning of the holiday – that of dedication to our tradition – when we consider that the Hebrew word for education, hinnukh, shares the same root meaning as hannukah, dedication. That is to say that for Jewish culture, to educate our children is to dedicate them to the knowledge and values that we ourselves have worked to preserve and perpetuate through our own lives.
Every year during our congregational Hanukkah celebration, we celebrate Hannukat haYeladim, the Dedication of the Children. Each year, every student (new to our Nashira Education Project, between the grades of kindergarten and fifth grade will receive a special blessing and a miniature Torah scroll in a special ceremony that will take place at Hannukah, in the moments between our celebration of Havdalah and the lighting of the Hannukah menorah lights. (Students engaged in Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation experience their own sense of dedication to Jewish learning through their Bat/Bar Mitzvah ceremony.)
In the spirit of the holiday, we illuminate a deeper level of meaning to one of the most popular holidays of the Jewish year, one which reaches back through history and down to the very essence of what it means to be Jewish.
We look forward to celebrating with our entire congregational family as we officially dedicate our students to the lifetime of fascinating and meaningful learning that we benefit from ourselves, and that we hope will also be theirs.