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'Tis the Season

Thursday, 8 December, 2011 - 6:58 pm

The Festival of Lights is nearly upon us. However it happened, Chanukah is always in proximity to the holiday celebrations of other cultures and religions. Being an extreme minority in this society, it is a challenge for us to maintain the uniqueness of Chanukah (even in our own minds) and not have it thrown in with the rest of the “Winter Holidays.” Many Jews have different ways of dealing with the cacophony of seasonal sounds, sights and smells. Some go with the flow, others try to shut everything out, while others fall somewhere in between.

There is one more approach, which I believe is the most effective. Instead of rejecting this, that and the other, let us embrace our Chanukah celebration in a way so powerful that our entire focus is on the joy and light of the Chanukah message. This leaves no void or inadequacy that requires filling with something else. Chanukah is such a special holiday because of the eternal relevance of what is represents.

Chassidism teaches that one of the reasons that the miracle was with the oil, is because oil epitomizes the struggle of the Maccabees. The Hellenist culture of the Syrian Greeks demanded assimilation on the part of the Jews. You can be Jews, they declared, but it should be like one liquid mixing with others, where it all becomes one. The Maccabees insisted that Judaism is like oil, even when poured into other liquid it remains distinct and does not become submerged. Their struggle became the symbol of religious freedom and the powerful light by whose illumination we proceed as a people. The Menorah lights up the night and reminds us of our special heritage for which we stand tall and proud.

Please watch a short video that conveys this powerful message. www.chabadneworleans.com/1703464.

chanukah3_player.jpg 

This year Chabad has a full schedule of Chanukah activities. Here is a sampling!

·         Mobile Menorah Parade: Tuesday, Dec 20 @ 7 PM (featuring the Happy Chanukah beads)

·         Latkes on Roller-skates: Wednesday, Dec 21 @ 4 PM (Airline Skate Country)

·         Chanukah @ Riverwalk: Thursday, Dec 22 @ 4:30 PM (featuring the Maccabi Torch & the Olive Press)

·         Israeli Chanukah Party: Saturday, Dec 24 @ 8 PM

·         Scavenger Hunt & Game Night: Sunday, Dec 25 @ 4:45 PM

We look forward to celebrating with you. For all of your Chanukah needs, including shopping, www.chabadneworleans.com/chanukah is your one stop shop.

I would like to extend our condolences to Yakir Katz upon the passing of his father Yekutiel Katz of Israel. Though I never met Yekutiel, from his son’s description he was a special and wise man that was loved and respected by all. May his life be an inspiration to his family!

This past Sunday was the funeral of Mrs. Paula King. Our warm greetings of comfort go out to her loved ones, the Galen, Belknap & Baum Families. Many wonderful things were shared about her extraordinary life. I will always remember Mrs. King as a person who carried herself with grace and dignity along with an ever-present smile on her face. My admiration is expressed to her family for helping her continue living with that very same grace and dignity in her elderly years, despite the many challenges that they faced. They are true examples of Kibbud Eim – honoring a mother.

Season’s (our season that is) greetings and Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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