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12/06/2021 12:14:19 PM


A View from the desk of Rabbi Ilene Haigh   
 December 6, 2021

On Friday night, Jeff Kahn helped the community to launch lanterns that lifted light to the sky for all to see. It was part of our indoor/outdoor/live/on zoom Chanukah celebration.  This year was different.  This year great bowls of fire warmed our fingers and the latkes (traditional potato pancakes) warmed on a grill.  It was a combination Chanukah celebration, tailgate party, warming us all from the inside out. 

Our Chanukyah, hand built this year to support 9 oil lamps was the brainchild of our member David Rosengarten.  Each and every member of the community bringing their gifts to help in the re-enactment of the rededication of the temple, each story and each gorgeous musical piece brought with love and hope and an indication of resilience. 

It was the first time in two years that we were able to gather in person for Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights.  Zoom has been a gift and like last year, from as far away as Chile and the Carolinas, California and New York, friends and family convened on Zoom for 8 nights of love and hope, to remember that each of us carries within us a flame, a spark, the potential to bring light into the world.  

In addition to teachings on LGBTQ diversity and reducing our carbon footprint, we sent over 170 meals to the Upper Valley Haven. Our kids assembled Project Night Night bags for children at the Haven, a promise that each child that arrives will have a blanket, a book and a flashlight, that even though they may not be in their own beds, they will be wrapped in love and light and potential wherever they go.  This project brought to us by our new family educator Leah Gawel, coupled with our commitment to justice, meant that in addition to focusing on the spiritual import of Chanukah, we and our kids forwarded our mission of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. 

We were blessed with the sounds of magnificent voices and violins, violas and piano.  We spread the light, saw the light, heard the light and Thursday night we tasted the light with our latke making class- brought to us by Tammy Shinder former school director currently residing in Houston.
On the eighth night of Chanukah, last night we concentrated our energy on our deep understanding that our faith is sustained l’dor v’dor from generation to generation.  Tomas Kohn who left Europe with his parents during the holocaust explained that they arrived in South America with no physical manifestations of their faith, like all immigrants carrying their tradition in their hearts and minds.  His uncle, built for them a chanukiah, the 9 branched candelabra of which we light one additional light each night. 
The rabbis in the ancient texts (of The Talmud) argued whether we should like all the candles the first night and decrease over the days or increase the number of candles with each passing night.  On Sunday night on Zoom, nearly 80 friends and family members experienced the gift, lighting all eight candles learning that we always move toward places of greater and greater light.  Zecil Gravitz, long time Pomfret residence aged 100, taught us the import of being kind to others, sharing our light, our youngest member only 17 weeks old, shared in the learning with her parents.  From generation to generation…what it means to spread light.  This year has been extraordinarily difficult for all of us, our ability and our commitment to spread light and hope is deeply sustaining in this the darkest time of the year.  Light is one of the few substances that is never diminished when it is shared, we send love and light to all….


Wed, June 19 2024 13 Sivan 5784