MESSAGE FROM OUR RABBI
The days are getting shorter and the evenings are getting longer. The Downtown Hendersonville bears have been sold and are now hibernating. And we have sadly had to say l’hitraot, see you later, to many of our part-time residents. If this is you, please know that you will be missed. If this is not you, we look forward to seeing you this month!
Last month, in November, I had the privilege of attending the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial. This huge event brings together thousands of Jewish leaders (professional and lay) to study, worship, and grow. Nearly 6000 people participated this year and I was honored to be among them.
At times, we can feel isolated and alone here in Hendersonville and it is events such as the Biennial which prove that we are not alone, far from it even. The URJ can be such a valuable resource if we choose to use it. The same holds true for us as individuals. Agudas Israel is a valuable resource, if we choose to use it.
This month, December, we will have the opportunity to be together for Chanukkah and Shabbat and learning. Each of these opportuni-ties brings light into our lives, which can, in turn, bring light into the lives of those we know.
December 13 we will have a community candle lighting for anyone in Hendersonville who wishes to join us. I hope that you bring your menorah and candles as we literally fill our space with light. We will figuratively fill our hearts with the same light. And we will see that we are not alone. It might be a dark time for our world, so it is up to each of us to illuminate the good, the friendships, and the hope which exists in this world.
As you prepare to light the candles on your chanukkiah this year, in addition to the traditional blessings, I encourage you to add another blessing. Below are eight possible choices (one for each night if you so choose).
I hope that each and every one of us has a meaningful December filled with the light that we ourselves bring to the world.
With warm blessings
Rabbi Rachael Jackson
-For those who are bullied: May the light of the Chanukkah candles inspire us to stand up for others when they have been bullied or mistreated. May the One who brings us light give us strength and wisdom to always model kindness and respect.
-For healing: May the light of the Chanukah candles give us the strength to find cures. May the One who brings us light help us to find cures for sickness, strengthen the caregivers, provide healing to the sick, and restore them to full health.
-For the State of Israel: May the light of the Chanukah can-dles enable us to cherish Israel and hold her in our con-sciousness. May the One who brings us light create in us an everlasting feeling of oneness with Israel and her people.
- For American and Israeli soldiers: May the light of the Cha-nukah candles bring aid in times of war. May the One who brings us light help the troops defending America and the State of Israel, stateside and abroad; may they return safely to their families.
- For the poor: May the light of the Chanukah candles bring warmth and brighten the lives of those who currently
experience poverty. May the One who brings us light help humanity to provide for one another and see to life’s basic needs.
·-For people in need: May the light of the Chanukah can-dles remind us that no matter how severe our situation, there is always someone who needs our help more. May the One who brings us light remind us that there are those in need of more help than ourselves.
-For those living through tragedy: May the light of the Chanukah candles bring light to those who have lost hope. May the One who brings us light enlighten the lives of those who are suffering from trauma.
-For all of humanity: May the light of the Chanukah can-dles be a reminder that God created humanity in God’s image, man and woman alike. May the One who brings us light teach us that every individual is like an entire world, and each soul is a flame of the Holy One.
December is a month of giving. We celebrate the holiday of Chanukah offering gifts to children and grandchildren and, perhaps other family members. Although we Jews do not celebrate Christmas, we often engage in gift giving with non-Jewish friends and often, generously, offer gifts to those who have provided ser-vices to us throughout the past year. Many organizations focus their fundraising efforts during this time of the year and inundate us with calls seeking donations for many worthy causes. It is easy to become annoyed or frustrated by these requests and expectations.
I have heard from some in our congregation that they feel frustrated by the ongoing requests for money for our congregation. Some of these requests are in the form of dues solicitation, a High Holy Day appeal, fundraising efforts such as the Mountain Jewish Festival or Raffle tickets, and encouragement to purchase tickets for synagogue events or gifts at the Judaica Boutique.
Many of you have heard me speak previously on the structure of finances in our synagogue. The dues and donations that we regularly receive each year simply are not enough to cover our annual operating expenses. While we are quite careful with our expenditures, there are certain items that are fixed expenditures that do not vary. We have a Rabbi and an office manager who earn salary and benefits. Fortunately, our building is paid for but we still have to pay to keep the building running, print program brochures, prepare our Chai Lites, sup-port Onegs, and do the myriad of other activities that makes Agudas Israel the vital, energetic, center of Jewish Living in Henderson County that it is.
All significant institutions of culture and learning require supplemental operating funds, and our temple is not exempt from these fiscal realities. When you make a donation to Agudas Israel or support one of our fund raising activities, your support provides much needed resources that ensure the future of our warm and welcoming Jewish Community. Rabbi Jackson’s presence encourages our engagement in uplifting Jewish spirituality, Jewish learning, social justice endeavors, and communal caring. Our Jewish tradition understands financial support for the synagogue as a mitzvah. So, during this holiday season, this season of giving, rather than annoyance or frustration, I hope our hearts will be open as we work together to preserve our Jewish home here in Hendersonville, NC.
Dr. Linda Perkel, President