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77http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/12/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---12_30_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 12_30_2011
12/29/2011 08:59 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
December 30, 2011

 

                We celebrated the last night of Hanukkah this past week. It’s always my favorite night because the Menorah is full of light. In a darkened room, the lights glow in ways that we don’t often appreciate anymore. Today, we take light for granted. In a city like Houston, the fourth largest city in America, the lights will always be on. There is no such thing as a dark night anymore. The glow of the city’s light can be seen for miles. Even observatories struggle to maintain darkness around their locations to be sure they can get an unobstructed view of the night sky.

                It’s a sign of the times, but it’s not the only sign. For decades in Houston, it has been the trend that new homes and buildings replace old homes and buildings that are barely 30-50 years-old. It’s part of the culture of the west, to be on the cutting-edge and in synch with the pioneer spirit. Houston epitomizes it for better and for worse. We enjoy living in a city like Houston, where we live on the cutting edge of modernity. But, when we embrace our pioneer heritage, alone, we can’t always embrace a heritage that is bound up in bricks and mortar.

                When we want to relate to the ancient or even the not-so-ancient, where can we go? For Jews, history is not only about 200+ short years of American history. To us, history takes us back to our Biblical roots. That’s where we find stories about the past, and insights into our future. We don’t glorify the past when we preserve it; rather, we honor it by learning from it. Insights into the future don’t foretell it, they inform it. It’s a perfect balance that permits us to have both our heritage and our modernity. To have it all, we have only to travel to Israel. In 14 hours, we can be in one place that is, at once, all about our past and our future. And both, at one and the same time, are exhilarating.

                In Israel, we can see the remnants of ancient towns and the roots of Biblical events. We can visit the tunnels along the Western Wall that take us back to the time of Hillel. We can see the remains of the wars of independence and freedom. We can also see the centers of industry that make Israel a critical leader in technology in the world, today. We can see holy religious sites of great world religions. And, we can see that Israel is a vibrant place where Jewish life is truly thriving in the present.

                On June 10-19, 2012, I will lead our Congregation Beth Israel trip to Israel, with chairs Marcia and Mike Nichols, Rabbi Adrienne and David Scott, and Cantor Daniel Mutlu. It will be a full experience from north to south, and east to west. It will be political, religious, social, technological, and cultural. Most important, it will be community building for all who attend. Registration is now open. You can review the itinerary and details on our Beth Israel website at www.beth-israel.org. Click the box on the right side of the home page and begin your journey that will bring you to Israel for the trip of a lifetime.

                As the new year 2012 comes into view, give yourself a gift you’ll cherish the rest of your life: a trip to Israel. “Next year in Jerusalem,” is not just a saying at the end of the Seder; it’s a hope we can make real this year, right now.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom and a healthy and prosperous 2012.

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