KISLEV / TEVET 5784
TO THE MEMBERS OF TEMPLE SHOLOM
May you know the warmth of the thoughts that are with you and the peace of the prayers that surround you, now and in the days to come. May God bless you and bring peace to your people and Israel.
-from a Christian who cares
~ MESSAGE FOR THE SEASON ~
As Hannukah approaches, we think of age-old customs, such as eating latkes, playing dreidel, giving gifts and gelt, and lighting the menorah each day for eight days. Hannukah is a celebration of the victorious Maccabees over the Syrians and the re-dedication of the Temple. It is the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days. So, as you light the candles and say the blessings, may you and your family experience the warmth and wonder of this Festival of Lights.
~ ANNUAL HANNUKAH DINNER ~
You are invited to join together at Temple Sholom on December 8 at 6:00 p.m. for our Hanukkah service and congregational. Bring your family chanukiah for community lighting. After the service, there will be a dinner as well as dreidel games with prizes, gelt, and singing. Please RSVP to the temple office if you plan to attend dinner, which will include chicken, latkes, and jelly doughnuts. Bring your favorite parve side dish to share with everyone. Cost of dinner is $5/members and $10/non-members.
~ DECEMBER MOVIE NIGHT ~
Be sure to come for our Movie Night on Sunday, December 17. We will be showing the classic film - Fiddler on the Roof. The evening begins at 5:00 p.m. with snacks and pizza available for everyone.
~ RABBI'S CORNER ~
''..NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT...''
Once again, Hannukah is upon us and Jews the world over will be lighting candles for eight nights and reciting the words:
''We thank You for the miracles, the redemption, the mighty deeds, the saving acts and the wonders You wrought for our ancestors in those days at this season.''
The rabbis of the Talmud who set much of our liturgy seem to be of two minds when it comes to which ''miracles'' should be emphasized. Following the phrase just quoted, they summarize the struggle between the faithful Jews and the Hellenizing Greeks and their Jewish supporters, giving all credit to G-d. They make no mention of Mattathias' courageous act of resistance that led to the successful war fought by the Jewish army led by Judah Maccabee - a war that not only insured the survival of Judaism, but also made possible the appearance of Christianity two centuries later. (NB: the Sages refer to Mattathias and his sons as ''the Hasmonean family''; ''Maccabee'' is a Greek word.)
Moreover, the few words in the Talmud that give the reason for lighting lights on Hannukah reference the ''miracle of the oil'' - a one-day supply that is said to have lasted eight days. One wonders why a week-long holiday was created for such a ''minor'' miracle - ''minor'' in comparison to (let's say) the sun not setting for Joshua so he could continue to fight (Joshua 10:13).
The Sages clearly wanted to shift the focus away from the military successes of the Hasmoneans/Maccabees and onto G-d's acts of deliverance. Given their first-hand experience of the two military disasters at the hands of Rome, such a shift is not surprising. And, to put something of a ''fine point'' on this, they chose for the Haftarah reading on the Shabbat during Hannukah, the verses from Zechariah that speak of a vision of a menorah, and include the famous words ''not by might, not by power, but by My spirit,'' says the Lord.
With the rise of Zionism in the 19th century and its mission of Jewish self-determination/self-redemption, the exploits of Judah Maccabee and his army began to be emphasized, as reflected in the song ''Who Can Retell?'': Now all Israel must as one arise/Redeem ITSELF through deed and sacrifice.
But the question remains: Are the successes of the Hannukah story because of G-d or because of the Hasmonean Maccabees?
Perhaps the answer is: Yes.
The story of Hannukah is told in I Maccabees, which ultimately was not included in Jewish sacred canon. Ironically, it was preserved by the early Church and is part of the Catholic version of the Bible, the Vulgate.
At a time when so many Jews (including Jewish leaders) were choosing Helenism over Judaism, Socrates over Moses, the story relates that Mattathias, inspired by Pinchas who acted because of his zeal for G-d (Numbers), publicly slew an apostate Jew and began the war that ultimately saved Judaism. The story continues in I Maccabees relating how the faithful resorted to force of arms, not for its own sake, but in order to literally ''fight for G-d.'' In episode after episode, the story relates that the faithful knew that, even with military know-how, ultimately their victory depended on their connecting to ''My spirit.'' At the same time, they also knew that passively waiting for ''My spirit'' to bring redemption would lead to disaster: after a slaughter that occurred on the Sabbath, Mattathias severely chastised the Jews who refused to fight on the Sabbath.
There is an important lesson for us today. Today, we Jews face threats to our well being. To be sure, they are not the same threats that our Maccabee ancestors faced: in our time, Judaism isn't threatened. But Jews are. However, if Hamas and its supporters get their way and Jews disappear, Judaism does also.
In response to current events both in Israel and wherever Jews live, we are again hearing the slogan ''NEVER AGAIN.'' To some, these words are a battle cry; to others, more of a hope. While most Jews in the Diaspora clearly support Israel's resorting to physical force in the name of self-defense, we are more ambivalent when it comes to our responding in the same way. We in the Diaspora have been conditioned to fight with words - persuasive arguments, letters to the editor, peaceful rallies, etc. But not with force.
But now that Jews in America face threats of personal attack, it is more evident that we need to take a cue from our Israeli brethren and re-acquaint ourselves with the fighting spirit of the Maccabees and once again learn how to properly use force to defend ourselves and what we as a community stand for.
With all of this in mind, I encourage folks to participate in the two-part class on Judaism and Self-Defense to be held on December 10 and 17. The classes will be 2 hours each and will focus on what Jewish Tradition teaches about proper self-defense and some practical techniques for the average ''layperson.''
Again, the objective is not just to emphasize teaching how to use ''might'' and ''power'' as ends in themselves. It is to teach how to use these for a higher, sacred purpose - as the Maccabees did.
Hope to see you then...
-Rabbi Cary Kozberg
''WITH A STRONG HAND, AND AN OUTSTRETCHED ARM...''
Current events are evoking responses of fear and concern among American Jews, not experienced since the 1930's. The difference, however, is that we now have an Israel which has taught us that Jews have the ability - and the responsibility - to defend ourselves. Current events are indicating that not only Jewish institutions, but also individual Jews should be concerned about their own safety and security.
With this in mind, a two-session class on personal self-defense will be offered by Rabbi Kozberg on Sundays, December 10 and 17, 1:00 - 3:00 PM. The sessions will be offered for those who have no background but who would like to feel more empowered should, G-d forbid, they be victims of assault.
Session 1 will include an overview of the Jewish ethics of self-defense, proper mindset and stances, and the basic use of hands and legs as weapons.
Session 2 will include a review of Session 1, additional techniques, defense against weapons, and how to use canes, walking sticks and umbrellas as defensive weapons.
NOTE: This is not training in firearms, and participants will NOT be in close body contact with other participants. Participants should wear comfortable, loose clothing, sneakers, and bring a long umbrella or cane to Session #2. For reasons of liability, these sessions are limited to the Temple Sholom Community. Number of participants will be limited to 18. To reserve a spot, please call the Temple office, 937-399-1231.
~ CONTRIBUTIONS ~
In memory of my husband Jeff from Inas Sisler
In memory of my brother David Draisen and my mother-in-law Henrietta Marks Goldman from Bernice Goldman
~ YAHRZEIT LIST ~
DEC 1: Laura Ackerman (mother of Joan Ackerman), Harry Berman, Shirley Ruth Buchfirer, Sanford ''Rik'' Newman, Ethel H. Sanders, Ben Farber, Paulette Grodner (wife of Jack Grodner), Tillie Shifman, Albert Viton
DEC 8: Jean Block, Bertha Frand Ebner, Pearl E. Friedman, Emil Gross, James Herron, Raymond Schneider (father of Bruce and Larry Schneider), Dorothy Bandman, Leonard Kurland, Rosalyn Horwitz Leventhal (mother of Aaron Leventhal), Abe Margolis, Frank Mugford (husband of Bobbi Mugford), Ben Zoldan
DEC 15: Ben Endelman, Rabbi Marianne Gevirtz, Corinne Pommer Schiff, Anna Farber, Benjamin Grodner (father of Jack Grodner), George Leventhal, Barbara Miller, Harold Pesselman (father of Laurie Leventhal), Sidney Russack, Pearl Stein (mother of Leslie Buerki), Arthur Turyn (father of Larry Turyn)
DEC 22: Natalie Cornez (wife of Paul Cornez), Martin Ebner (father of Dick Ebner), Hyman D. Kaminsky, Harold S. Pollens, Jack M. Rubin, Izidore Weiser, Sarah Fish (mother of Larry Fish)
DEC 29: Sarah Endelman, Lena Gross, Ellen I. Helfgott, Rose H. Holzberg, Toby Katz, Augusta Kaufman, Erie Maybruck, Clara Mendelson, Sylvia Rubinoff, Simon Sanders, Isidor Schiff, Manuel L. Soble, Mo Weiselbaum, Oscar Werber, Craig Chapman Jr (brother of Joe Chapman), Minnie Ebner, Nathan Leventhal, Shirley Unger Leventhal, Ruth Mazur, Lillian Nedelman (mother of Stan Nedelman), Freda Silverstein (mother of Marvin Silverstein), Eugene Unger