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Parashat Miketz

December 3, 2021
29 Kislev 5782
Parashat Miketz
Genesis 41:1 - 44:17

Dear Friends,

Every night of Chanukah we add a light, be it a candle or oil. On the first night the light is quite meager -- thank goodness for the shamash!

Without the shamash there to kindle the light, the light would be singular -- alone. Each night, as we add another light, the power of the light grows. It has the capacity to fill us with hope and possibility, and also with the recognition that there is indeed strength in numbers.

 At Tehillah we have images of brightly lit tables filled with every manner of Channukiah with a diverse community gathering strength from the light and from one another. Although, we cannot all gather together in the same way, the light and hope we share with one another makes all of the difference. The underpinning of it all is love. “And you shall love your fellow man as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18 -- Robert Alter translation)

 Sometimes the most difficult part of the journey is to truly love ourselves, to care for ourselves, and to accept who we are with all of our strengths and weaknesses. When we are able to do that, our ability to give and be there for others in a meaningful way increases. It is transformative.

As a community, Tehillah is a caring community, one that seeks to care for those within. We have learned to love ourselves. Now it is time for us to look at our next steps, both as individuals and as a community. Before Thanksgiving I was privileged to host an online gathering of our local interfaith community. We expressed our gratitude for what we had and heard about ways to send it forward to the many Afghani refugees who are here. Members of our community are already doing this work. My question to all of you is: do we want to participate as a community? If you are interested in joining with our neighboring institutions to engage in this work, please let me know.

We are always stronger together, and like the many different Channukiot, we each care about different things in the world that need repair. This is just one of many.

Even as we light the hopeful lights of Chanukkah, we turn our hearts to the community of Oxford Township. Our hearts are with this community as they are confronted by the pain of gun violence.

We offer this El Maleh by Rabbi Hannah Spiro:

El maley rakhamim,
God, full of mercy, who dwells above,
Remind us of your Divine Presence here, below, where hearts break as blood flows.
Our neighborhood has lost dozens and dozens of community members and beloveds to gun violence in just the last few years, and we are not alone.
Give rest on the wings of the Divine Presence to the souls of these individuals whose lives were taken far too soon
And may they find rest on your wings in the knowledge that we, their neighbors, their survivors, will not forget them and will not forget the work that we must do to fix this broken world.
Merciful One, as we work to protect living souls so that no more lives will be lost to guns, protect our lost neighbors and loved ones’ souls forever. The Everlasting is their heritage, and they shall rest peacefully at their lying places. And let us say:

Amen.

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Sun, January 16 2022 14 Shevat 5782