201311 - November, 2013

on Tuesday, 05 November 2013.

201311 - November, 2013

Chanukah in November

5774 is going to be a year of feeling somewhat out of sync with the world around us. On the one hand, the High Holy Days came "early," and our back-to-school and ritual calendars collided as Labour Day heralded the onset of Jewish "prime time." On the other hand, the fall holidays were complete by the end of September, and Thanksgiving weekend was blissfully uninterrupted by festival days.  November will bring another unusual calendar challenge. Chanukah begins the evening of Wednesday, November 27 ("Erev" American Thanksgiving), and concludes on Thursday, December 5. Just as the winter holiday season begins to ramp up, our own Jewish holiday will have come and gone. Even if you don't share your days with young children whose celebrations will conclude frightfully earlier than those of their Christian peers, Jews of every age may spend December feeling oddly out of step with the festivities surrounding us. 


There are many things in life that can put us at odds with much of the world. Being a religious minority amplifies one set of cultural differences. But living differently in any way from our neighbours or colleagues can foster feelings of isolation - how we eat, where we shop, how we spend our vacations; sometimes small surface differences seem emblematic of a greater divide between any "us" and "them." Real or imagined, "differences" can make us feel secluded, misunderstood, or simply frustrated. 

Often, feelings of isolation stem from a sense of being or having "less than" another. I would like to suggest Chanukah as a perfect antidote to the pitfalls of "deficit thinking." Judaism gives us this great little holiday, with eight whole chances to step away from the hustle and bustle on all sides of us. Whether we manage to down shift one, two, or even all eight days long enough to gather with friends or family around the menorah, Chanukah is the time to let a little light illumine the encroaching darkness of winter and stave off the cold feelings of separation it can bring.

An "early" Chanukah falling before the concomitant Christmas/ secular winter holiday is an opportunity to give our spirits a lift a little early. May its message of enduring Jewish spirit, despite sometimes oppressive hostile forces, give us encouragement to overcome any personal challenges. And may we be sustained and enjoy the goodwill of the season that follows among our neighbours and friends.

Chag Chanukah Sameach - may you enjoy a happy and healthy Chanukah!

Rabbi Debra Dressler 

Check out Rabbi Dressler's boards on Pinterest ! There are boards with holiday ideas, as well as adult ed resources and book recommendations.  Happy Pinning!

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