Mikeitz/Hanukkah 5773: The Real Gift of Hanukkah - Freedom of Conscience

December 14, 2012

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Before we begin tonight, I must ask you take a moment of silence in memory of the children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut who were murdered earlier today. At times of shocking atrocities like this, which we have experienced too many times in recent years, there is really no response that will make sense of the tragedy. I ask that you pray for the families of all who were killed and wounded, and that perhaps at some point we may find a way to prevent such horrible acts from taking place ever again.

May the families of these innocents find consolation and comfort in God, and may we find a way to work to prevent such horrors from recurring in our land, and in our world.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Chanukah Same'iach!

If you are anything like me, you have been eating latkes and sufganiyot for 7 nights and days now, and after all the fried food and parties it's time to begin to think about cutting back on the caloric intake... Unfortunately, there are other celebrations this time of year that we participate in, and often they also have food to eat, I'm told. The danger is that what we will take from this holiday season may turn out to be nothing but several extra pounds around the middle of our bodies...

And that would be a shame. Because for Jews and non-Jews, the central message of Hanukkah is powerful and important, and it is especially relevant all year-round, here in America and everywhere in the world.

Read more: Mikeitz/Hanukkah 5773: The Real Gift of Hanukkah - Freedom of Conscience

Mikeitz/Hanukkah 5774: Killing Dreamers and Dreams

November 29, 2013

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ

Shabbat Shalom, and of course Chag Urim Samei'ach, and a very Happy Hanukkah. May this festival of light be a time of joy, celebration, and peace for everyone here. And may we all figure out how to lose a few of the pounds we added at Thanksgiving and Hanukkah yesterday... What a truly rare combination of foods: stuffing and latkes. Two fantastic foodstuffs that are totally delicious and have no redeeming nutritional qualities whatsoever.

As we continue in this week's Torah portion of Mikeitz exploring the great story of Joseph, I have been thinking about dreams, and dreamers. When I spoke about this subject last Shabbat it happened to occur on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and also the week of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln. The coincidence of these seminal milestones falling within the same week, and also the week that we began reading the portion that deals with Joseph's amazing Technicolor dream interpreting, was extraordinary. And that this all occurred just before Hanukkah, a holiday that celebrates the victory of the Maccabean dreamers and fighters over their dream-free enemies added potency to the multiple correlations.

I noted last week that the Jewish conception of dreaming is that of a practical and pragmatic approach to realizing what some might call the impossible. Theodore Herzl told us, im tirtzu ein zo agadah—if you will it, it is not a dream. That means that our greatest dreamers are those who not only imagine a better world, but who make it happen.

Read more: Mikeitz/Hanukkah 5774: Killing Dreamers and Dreams

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