#Inspired, #Grateful


Back in September, we were focused on being grateful for the people, things and moments that enrich our lives. We realized that we often become distracted and, instead of looking for what makes us grateful, we dwell on what makes us stressed. Some of you are still wearing your grateful bracelets and succeeding at living a life of gratitude. Most of us, however, have allowed the life’s stresses to steal our focus. While we would like to feel grateful for all that we have, it’s hard to experience the gratitude when so many other things get in the way. Fortunately, the Jewish calendar is designed to help us get our focus back.
On Tuesday evening, Chanukah begins. As we light the candles for eight nights, we remember the inspirational story of the Maccabees, who, despite facing tremendous challenges, managed to overcome the Greeks and save Judaism. For eight nights, we get to gather around our Chanukah Menorah and eat latkes and donuts while sharing gifts and laughter with those we love. If it weren’t for the Maccabbees, none of this would be possible. Their courage and determination allow us to experience eight nights of gratitude and for this, we must be grateful for the Maccabees.

Almost three months after Rosh HaShanah, just as the lessons of gratitude begin to fade away, Judaism fills our life with the inspirational light of Chanukah and the story of the Maccabees. Each of the eight candles urges us to look for someone, something or some moment that inspires us. Eight opportunities to be inspired – this is the miracle of Chanukah! Allow yourself to experience this miracle. Let the light of the candles help you focus once again on being grateful. Let yourself be inspired.

Civil Rights in Israel

securedownloadAs our nation is embroiled in a civil rights struggle, Israel too finds herself in the midst of her own civil rights battle. This battle centers around attempts by Israeli leaders to pass legislation that will formally establish the status of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Shockingly, there is no Israeli law that does this. The challenge that those behind this legislation face is how Israel legally both becomes a Jewish State and guarantees equality to non-Jewish citizens.

In the same way that the facts surrounding the current civil rights conflict here in America have been difficult to discern, so too has it been challenging to get a grasp of the struggle going on in Israel which has led to Prime Minister Netanyahu to break up his coalition and call for early elections.

It is so important for us all to get the facts about what is going on in the US and in Israel. I found this article to be extremely helpful navigating the situation in Israel.  I encourage you to read it and ask yourself how Israel can formalize her Jewish identity and uphold Jewish values while insuring that all citizens, regardless of religion, are treated equally. It is a tremendous challenge. This being said, as we get ready for Chanukah, the holiday that celebrates the determination and the strength of the Maccabees, we must believe that Israel and America have the ability to overcome tremendous challenges while maintaining democratic principals.