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214http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2014/12/RabbiLyonsBlog-12-26_2014
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 12_26_2014
12/26/2014 10:22 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
December 26, 2014

 

                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.

                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. We enjoy living in a city like Houston, where we live on the cutting edge of modernity. But, when we embrace only our pioneer spirit, we can’t always appreciate our heritage that’s bound up in the enduring elements of bricks and mortar, too.

                When we want to relate to the ancient or even the not-so-ancient, where can we go?  For Jews, the past isn’t only about the relatively short years of American history. For us, we go all the way back to our Biblical roots. We don’t preserve the past in order to glorify it; rather, we honor it by learning from it. Insights into the future aren’t meant to foretell it; at best, they inform it. Respect for the past and hope for the future permit us both our heritage and our modernity. To have it all, today, 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 are exhilarating.

                In Israel, we see remnants of ancient towns and the roots of Biblical events. We visit the tunnels along the Western Wall that take us back to the time of Hillel. We see the remains of the wars of independence and struggle. We see the centers of industry that make Israel a critical leader in technology in the world, today. We see holy religious sites of other world religions. We see that Israel is a vibrant place where Jewish life is truly thriving, and we see the work that still needs to be done, which depends even on us. You and I can make a difference there.

                On May 29-June 7, 2016, my wife, Lisa, and I will lead our next Congregation Beth Israel trip to Israel. May and June 2016 are a long way away, but it’s not too soon to set your calendar and budget for the trip. Details will follow in the early spring. 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. Ask anyone who has gone with us in the past and they’ll tell you that it was a trip of a lifetime. We generally are a group of 50 or less; and, our goal is to inspire you as we explore who we are as much as we explore where we are.

                The lights that burn in Israel’s city centers have been burning for thousands of years. They tell stories that are part of our heritage and they light the way for stories yet untold. Between the lights, there is a darkness that is unlike any other anywhere else. It’s a darkness that awaits light and seeks illumination. It can be a bulb that burns brightly or it can be new insights waiting for us to reveal. When we return from Israel, we’ll become ambassadors who shed light on ideas and hopes for Israel and the Jewish people. Next Year in Jerusalem.

                Best wishes to you and yours for a prosperous and healthy 2015. May you and I and all who are touched by our lives find blessing in the presence of the Source of blessing.


You may contact Rabbi David Lyon here.


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