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124http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2012/12/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---12_07_2012
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 12_07_2012
12/06/2012 07:00 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
December 7, 2012

 

On this date, December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. President Roosevelt called it "a date which will live in infamy". Some of us are too young to remember it as it happened; but, none of us is too young to understand its implications. It would be years before the war ended in 1945, and many more years to understand the full effects of the war in Europe. The Holocaust exposed humanity at its worst and the Jews were among its greatest victims. War accounts for most human tragedies, but the Holocaust awakened us to atrocities that defy human limits. “Crimes against humanity” became a new category to define the boundary of human behavior where normal remorse or forgiveness is unavailable. Judaism teaches that the death penalty, though rarely used and often avoided, is, as it was in the case of Eichmann, the only means of redemption for such crimes.

                In Judaism, justice is at the core of our human endeavor. In Hebrew, justice and righteousness share the same root (tz^d^k). We aim to restore to wholeness the people who are broken. There is a lack of justice wherever there is hunger, homelessness, loneliness, etc. Therefore, we feed the hungry, house the homeless, and visit the homebound. It’s our obligation as Jews bound by a covenant that makes us partners with God, to perform these acts of justice and righteousness.

                Out of the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust, our obligation is also to give life and light to the memories of those whose human endeavors guttered. When we observe Chanukah we retell only one story from ancient times, but there are many stories down to our own day that tell about Jewish perseverance and survival. Chanukah means “dedication” to recall the Maccabees who dedicated the Temple they reclaimed from the Syrian Greeks, and relit the lamps that burned not just for one day, but for eight days. When isn’t it Chanukah? When isn’t it a day dedicated to Jewish perseverance and survival?

                To honor the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and who were martyrs of our people in ages past, our duty is at least two-fold: to light the lights of Chanukah as free people who can display the menorah for all to see it; and, to be the light that reflects on us from the menorah we kindle with family and friends. When we do Judaism we honor those who died just because they were Jews, and we deny their persecutors a posthumous victory.

                How can you choose Judaism for yourself and your family? On Saturday night, December 8th, light the first light in the menorah and display it proudly. The blessings can be found in your prayer book and on any website that begins with the word “Chanukah”.

                But, most of all, come on Friday night, December 14th, to the sanctuary at 6:30pm to light the Maltz Menorah with our congregational family. There we will stand before the menorah with Jewish leaders. There we will stand up for justice and stand up for the Jewish people. God bless the memory of those who fought for freedom, Jew and gentile, alike, in the wars that saved our nation and the prospect of freedom for all people. “Not by might, not by power, but by God’s spirit, alone.” Am Yisrael Chai, The Jewish People Lives.

                From my family to yours, Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom.

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