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“Hanukkah: A Time For Gratitude, Hope and Generosity”

12/04/2023 02:46:54 PM


Dear Haverim,


We had a wonderful Pre-Hanukkah celebration for children and adults last Friday evening with songs, stories, latkes, dreidels, chocolate gelt and so much more!  Everyone rejoiced in the Hanukkah spirit, and we all realized how deeply we needed some moments of joy after almost two months of tragedy in the Middle East.


Hanukkah is a profound reminder for all of us to live with a keen sense of both the happy  moments in our lives, and, reluctantly, to expect hardship and tragedy.


Judaism has known for millennia how to balance the victories and vicissitudes of life – cherishing joy and preparing for the unexpected.  We want, of course, to recite “Shehecheyanu” more than “Kaddish,” but life has so much unpredictability, so we must prepare for both.


Last week, I wrote, at the end of my letter, about how expensive our synagogue security needs have become.  The cost of armed guards to protect all of us – children and adults – at services, Pre-School, Living Judaism Religious School, meetings and activities has skyrocketed beyond belief!


We just spent $9,000 in the first two weeks of last month for guards, and this need will continue for the foreseeable future – even beyond the Israel-Hamas War, because, tragically, anti-Semitism, vandalism and physical threats potentially endanger all of us.


We wish life could be different, but right now, it’s sadly not.  As much as we cherish the Hanukkah story of the victory of the Jews, almost 2200 years ago, over their oppressors, that “miracle” sadly won’t occur in the near future for us.  We will still need to struggle against hate for a long time.


But there is something that we can all do right now!  Our “Year-End Hanukkah Appeal” (click here) needs our immediate, generous and widespread support to pay, not only for our usual synagogue expenses, but for our demanding and crucial costs of security.


As I wrote to you last week, your generous gift will be matched “dollar for dollar” by two wonderfully generous families in our congregation.


Hanukkah begins this Thursday evening.  Please don’t hesitate to donate generously now, so that all of our children and adults can feel safe, secure, and protected in our building (click here). 


Let’s hope that the near future will be safer and more joyous than the recent past. Your safety is our Number One concern at University Synagogue.  Help that happen through your generosity.


May this danger soon pass, and may we all feel safer in America and in the world.  May political stability, reason and reconciliation return to our country. and may Israel and the rest of the Middle East find their way to peaceful co-existence.  May these dreams become a true “Hanukkah Miracle” worthy of celebration!


All the best for a joyous, meaningful, and  hopeful Hanukkah.


Chag Hanukkah Sameach,


Rabbi Arnie Rachlis

Wed, February 28 2024 19 Adar I 5784