Join us this Friday at 4:30 pm for our congregation’s Intergenerational Chanukah Party, a celebration of light and joy!
Last night, we celebrated our newest cornerstone which proclaims that this is the year that we will dedicate our refreshed and rebuilt building. On that stone, it refers to the Beit T’fillah – our sanctuary building, the Beit Midrash – our school wing, and then to a new addition, the Beit Knesset – the Atrium.
It is no mistake that the leadership of our Building Renewal Committee chose this moment for the dedication – as Chanukah itself means “dedication,” celebrating the rededication of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem at this time in years past. In that year, so long ago, the celebration they held was an echo of the Sukkot festival, a festival which had been ‘missed’ because of the conflict. Creating an eight-day festival, like Sukkot, was an opportunity for our people to show that despite the hardship, they were dedicated to the cause.
When our Sanctuary was built, part of that cause was to celebrate our being part of Toronto society, but also apart from it – that Judaism could hold its own, and remain separate with its own great building in the city. And still today, we maintain our Sanctuary, our social position, and our will to keep our religious observances special – and separate from other religious holy days in this time.
When our school wing was built, we were trying to preserve and pass on our tradition. After the Baby Boom, we felt the pressing need to be creative in our education and make sure that our kids knew what it meant to be Jewish in an increasingly welcoming and open world. And today – we build a place where we can all gather and see each other’s faces. Those faces have changed over the years, not only in age, but in diversity, and we are strengthened for it. Now, our cause is like a lantern to shine out, and like a gathering space to welcome in.
To shine out: One of the mitzvot of Chanukah is that we put our menorahs near a window so that the light may shine out. One of the miracles of Chanukah this year is how much our congregation’s reputation – and therefore the Jewish people’s reputation has continued to shine in this city.
And to welcome in: We are a more diverse congregation than ever before, conscious of language around gender, of welcoming the Jew and the non-Jew into our midst, and that is a miracle in itself. Let’s practice gathering, and not wait for our newest spaces to see each other; our next congregational gathering is this Friday night when we’ll be lighting four candles! Come join us any time after 4:30 pm, and stay for the Tot Shabbat or the main sanctuary service.
Chanukah is a time of rededication. This Chanukah may we dedicate ourselves to shining out, and to welcoming in. Happy Chanukah!
Rabbi Jordan Helfman