I love the metaphors of bringing light into the world at this season, cliched as they can sometimes become. We can’t always assume light will be there – both literally and figuratively.
Exactly when it’s darkest outside (in the Northern Hemisphere), the Divine spark can bring surprise, courage, creativity and compassion – symbolizing the light that we can bring to the world.
I think of the idea of light too, when I think of the Open Dor Project, and the field of emerging spiritual communities. Each community – in ways true to themselves - exemplify how to bring more bravery , inspiration, and kindness into the world.
Rabbi David Hartman (z’’l) connects this thoughtful, imaginative impulse to the story of Chanukah, as Rabbi Esther Lederman recently taught me. We routinely understand the Chanukah miracle to be that the oil lasted for all eight nights. In other words, the miracle was a surprise condition of the oil itself.
Rabbi Hartman changed the story. He taught that the real miracle of Chanukah is that the Jews had the optimism and bravery to light the menorah at all. Amidst the destruction and war around them, with knowledge that there wasn’t enough oil yet, they had the hope and creativity and courage to just try.
The Open Dor communities share that Maccabean ethos. Each community lives deeply by their mission – helping Jews and the Jewish adjacent to live with intention, purpose, creativity, and the beauty of our tradition.
Each of the Open Dor rabbis is like the shamash, with the courage to not only light first candle, but the fortitude to continue to light the imagination of what can be in the lives of our people. We will all celebrate the miracle of light. And we celebrate at this season the miracle of light these spiritual leaders share with others – both in their communities and beyond.
If you want to add a little light into your world, learn more about the Open Dor communities and stay in touch to follow the growing field of Jewish clergy building emerging spiritual communities.
Happy Chanukah! Rabbi Ana Bonnheim Director, Open Dor Project