Hannukah lesson from the Rabbis at BTAY, Miami
I’m home in Miami for a couple of weeks, technically on vacation, realistically visiting every rabbi in a 50 mile radius. A few days ago, my own childhood rabbi, Rabbi Ed Farber at Beth Torah Adath Yeshurun sent out this video of an informal dialogue on Hannukah with BTAY’s other rabbi-in-residence, Rabbi Rojzman.
I recently read Christopher Hitchens’s 2007 article likening Hannukah to “fundamentalist thuggery.” It’s hard to disagree. We know the Maccabees were religious zealots that few of us “progressive Jews” would be able to get behind. But where I disagree with Hitchens, and agree with the forthcoming message from my rabbi, is in his assertion that it would be better had it never happened, and the world chose Hellenism and turned their backs on “oldtime religion.”
Religious identity, culture and, texts, coupled with flexible and creative thinking, can be an entirely enriching force, and it is hard to charge the religion itself with being polluted, any religion, when so many people practicing do so in a way that does not conflict with their progressive humanist values. The more I reach out and meet with rabbis all over the East Coast, the more I am finding this to be true.
My rabbis make a great argument for the value of Hannukah and its lessons: the value of religious freedom, and how to interact with the host culture so that we have the best of both worlds (“Have the Torah in one hand and the newspaper in the other,” says Rabbi Rojzman). And all this under 5 minutes. Enjoy!