WON’T COMPETE WITH XMAS
SETS NEW SIGHTS ON THANKSGIVING
It’s an event of cosmic proportions. Literally. The solar and lunar calendars will align as they have not since 1888, with Thanksgiving coming out on Hanukkah. No need to file away the turkey stuffed with latkes recipe because the next time you’ll need it will be in about 79,000 years. So pretty much, never.
Hanukkah, observed about 1,800 times before the first Thanksgiving, celebrates the victorious conclusion of a war which allowed the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the public rededication of the Jewish people to God after years when such open devotion was crushed.
Although we began reading the Torah anew this past Shabbat, I want to talk about how it ended. We’ve been reading from this scroll all year long. It takes the better part of an hour to review each and every installment each and every week, yet when we come to the very end of the whole thing, it’s lost in a blur of excitement and children and singing and dancing and maybe a drink or two. In the celebration we call Simchat Torah, Rejoicing with the Torah, the ending to which we had been building for a year comes and goes rather quickly. And without the slightest pause for reflection, we rewind and start the story again.
So I want to talk not about how it all began, but about how it ended.
Or rather – how it did not end.
Because if we were to unroll the Torah scroll and look at its story, this is what we would see.
If Amazon was selling a book based on the premise that Jews care unconditionally for and about each other – what we are calling Jewish Mutual Responsibility or Areyvut in short-hand Hebrew – how would they classify it? Non-fiction or fiction?
Areyvut has sustained our global Jewish people for millennia. Jewish communities in the diaspora have always supported the Jewish community in Israel; Jewish educators and learners traveled the world to engage with each other; Jews from one country surrendered fortunes to ransom Jews in another country. And today, yes, it is still a fact that Jews in New Jersey provide funds to feed a Jew in Minsk whom they will probably never meet; they also sustain a Jewish child in Ethiopia while she waits to leave for Israel.