DECEMBER 2019 NEWSLETTER
KISLEV / TEVET 5780
~ RABBI'S CORNER ~
HANNUKAH: OUR OWN ''DECEMBER DILEMMA''
So Alexander reigned twelve years, and then died. And his servants ruled every one in his place. And after his death they all put crowns upon themselves; so did their sons after them many years: and evils were multiplied in the earth. And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been a hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks. In those days there went out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying: Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them, we have had much sorrow. This idea pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen. Whereupon they built a gymnasium at Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen. And made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were determined to do mischief.
These are the opening verses of I Maccabees. They give the context and reason that led to the rebellion of those Jews committed to being faithful to G-d and the Torah against the Syrian emperor Antiochus Epiphanes. That rebellion, of course, is commemorated every year with the observance of Hannukah.
As the verses point out (and what is not known by many of us), the threat to Judaism initially was not an external threat, but an internal one. That is, the push to assimilate began not because of an external imperial decree, but because of an internal desire by Jews themselves to be like the other nations - to shed their own teachings and values and adopt those of their gentile neighbors. When these Jews made common cause with Antiochus, he issued the decree that made the study and practice of Judaism a capital offense - which resulted in what we know as ''the Maccabean revolt.''
Notably, the revolt did not aim to rid Jewish life of all things Greek, but only to resist attempts by the government and its Jewish allies to get rid of all things particularly Jewish.
Even though the revolt led to the creation of a beloved holiday, the revolt led by the Maccabees was a ''limited'' success. The Maccabees and their camp (notably called ''Hasidim'' in those days) were able to overcome Antiochus' army and its Jewish allies long enough to recapture the Temple, purify it, and rededicate it to the worship of Israel's one G-d.
But it was a “limited” success: not only were there new challenges in the offing, but the same tension viz universalism vs. particularism within the Jewish community continues to this day. In our own time, the question of how ''particular'' vs. how ''universal'' Jewish identity and practice should be is arguable as serious now as it was in the time of the Maccabees. Curiously, in our own time it may even be more serious. Although we still are challenged by anti-Semitism in various forms from various quarters, there is no external, official threat to the practice of Judaism itself. However, once again the real threat to Judaism comes from within our own ranks: so many Jews are much more influenced by the values of the general culture than by the values embedded in Jewish teachings. To be sure, there are places where the two values systems intersect, but there are more places where they conflict.
One significant (and most unfortunate) example that comes to mind is the effort to deny the religious teaching that Jews are ''the chosen people.'' Although this so-often misunderstood notion has always been a key tenet of the Jewish religion, it is now deemed offensive by Jews who believe that it conflicts with contemporary universalistic social and cultural mores. Moreover, those who advocate for this major diversion away from traditional Jewish teaching insist that this diversion actually makes for a more authentic Jewish ethos - that focusing on becoming good ''citizens of the world'' is really what Judaism is about. For these Jews, Hannukah no longer celebrates the triumph of our sacred, Divinely-mandated particularism, but is now a celebration of the ''Festival of Light'' - focusing on how humanity can bring more light into a very dark world.
Unlike our ancestors, there is no threat from a government or official mechanism to make us abandon our 4000-year old legacy. The threat comes from an external culture whose values are often at odds with authentic Jewish values. Ironically, living in a nation where Jews have been free to be as committed and as observant as they wish, many have chosen to dilute or abandon altogether that commitment.
Particularism vs. Universalism: where is each of us on this spectrum? In our lives, how much of each influences the other? In a time of instant access to so many conflicting viewpoints, how do we discern what values and actions are authentically and durably Jewish, and what are merely fashionable but ephemeral?
This is our ''December dilemma''...but it won't end on January 1.
-- Rabbi Cary Kozberg
TODAH RABBAH...thank you to
Larry Schneider who has kept the synagogue parking lot plowed and cleared of snow for many years. We appreciate your commitment and faithfulness to this service.
NEW ADDRESS FOR...
Eddie and Laurie Leventhal: 719 Edenwood Drive, Springfield 45504
We neglected to thank Doug Klang for being one of our High Holy Days shofar blowers - thank you, thank you!
As we near year-end, many of us take stock of times past and think of the promise of better times in the future. It is a time to think of what each of us could do to help make the next year a better one. It is also our communal responsibility to provide for the continuation of Temple Sholom. All donations made from now until the end of the year are tax-deductible for the year 2019. Please consider Temple Sholom when making your year-end charitable donations.
DINE AND OPINE
On Friday night, December 6, we will be resuming our Fall ''Dine and Opine'' program. Following our Shabbat service at 6:00 p.m., we'll enjoy a Shabbat dinner together and a presentation by our own Kim Fish, who will share some ''Jewish highlights'' of her recent trip to Germany - specifically her visit to a synagogue in Ichenhausen (Bavaria) which was active from the 1600's until the rise of the Nazis. It is now a community center and museum.
In order to appropriately plan for the dinner, which will feature a Middle Eastern menu, please RSVP to Diane in the Temple office at 399-1231 as soon as possible.
CHECK IT OUT...
For those of you who are New England Patriots and Nate Ebner fans, there is a wonderful 3-part article on the Patriots website that pays tribute to Nate and his father Jeff. Just go to the Patriots website, scroll down to Latest Articles, and scroll right to Nate Ebner's Fatherland. The article was written by Erik Scalavino and highlights not only Nate's career but his close relationship with his dad. Do not miss reading it. https://www.patriots.com/news/nate-ebner-s-fatherland-part-three-peace-at-last
TEMPLE SHOLOM 6TH ANNUAL
WINE TASTING EVENING
SATURDAY, MARCH 14
5:00 - 7:00 PM
$30 PER PERSON/$60 PER COUPLE
Call Diane at 399-1231 or Mary Jo & Adam Leventhal at 284-8027
~ HOLIDAY DATES ~
Mark your calendar for the rest of this year’s Jewish holidays, which begin at sundown on the preceding day.
Hannukah...............December 23, 2019
Tu B'Shvat...............February 10, 2020
Purim........................March 10, 2020
Passover......................April 9, 2020
Yom Hashoah...............April 21, 2020
Yom Haatzma-ut.............April 29, 2020
Lag Ba'Omer..................May 12, 2020
Shavuot.........................May 29, 2020
Tisha B'Av...................July 30, 2020
Erev Rosh Hashana................September 18, 2020
~ CONTRIBUTIONS ~
- A generous donation has been received from Inas Sisler in memory of her husband Jeff
- With thanks and appreciation for your Adult Education class from Clare Perks
- Congratulations to Laurie Leventhal on her new home from Nancy McGregor
- To commemorate the one-year yahrzeit of Van Gabbard from Elizabeth and Drew Shanefield
JEFFREY D EBNER YOUTH FUND
- In remembrance of Jeff Ebner's November 14 (2008) yahrzeit from Gail Briley
- In memory of Bernard Benjamin from Lyla and Harvey Bailin
~ YAHRZEIT LIST ~
DEC 6: Harry Berman, Jean Block, Bertha Frand Ebner, Pearl E. Friedman, Emil Gross, Raymond Schneider, Dorothy Bandman, Rose Broidy, Ben Farber, Leonard Kurland, Abe Margolis, Frances Pollack
DEC 13: Ben Endelman, Rabbi Marianne Gevirtz, James Herron, Anna Farber, Benjamin Grodner, Barbara Miller, Sidney Russack, Pearl Stein, Ben Zoldan
DEC 20: Martin Ebner, Hyman D. Kaminsky, Harold S. Pollens, Jack M. Rubin, Corinne Pommer Schiff, Izidore Weiser, Sarah Fish, George Leventhal, Harold Pesselman, Albert Viton
DEC 27: Lena Gross, Ellen I. Helfgott, Rose H. Holzberg, Augusta Kaufman, Simon Sanders, Isidor Schiff, Mo Weixelbaum, Minnie Ebner, Nathan Leventhal, Rosalyn Horwitz Leventhal, Ruth Mazur, Freda Silverstein, Arthur Turyn, Eugene Unger
JAN 3: Sarah Endelman, Bernice Jean Gerson, Morris M. Gold, Toby Katz, Erie Maybruck, Clara Mendelson, Harry Sachs, Siegfried Sander, Sam Schechter, Emma Schoenthal, Manuel L. Soble, Oscar Werber, Samuel Farber, Marvin F. Klang, Jack Leventhal, Lillian Leventhal, Mary Schoemer