Friday, December 11, 2009

Things I Didn't Know About Hannukah

Hannukah begins today - and no, it's not a "Jewish Christmas," though it surprises me how many uninformed Americans think it might be. A few years ago I bought a couple of children's books about Hannukah to have on hand to help tell the story. It's too bad so many folks have Bibles without the Apocrypha, since the Hannukah story is alluded to in the "in-between" books of 1 and 2 Maccabees. Maybe the best way to learn the story and how it's understood today is to expand our circles of friends to include more folks of different faiths.
One of the experiences I am most grateful for during my seminary days is CPE - Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE tends to get a pretty bad rap from pastor-types, and in some cases, rightly so. It's no good to be taken apart and then not put back together again. What made my CPE experience so good, besides a good supervisor, was the friendship forged with the only other woman in my group, a rabbinical student named Sarah. Early on in our summer of hospital-chaplaincy-fun, Sarah and I decided that there would be no "dumb questions" between us - and I got to learn a lot about her tradition, the different branches of the Jewish family tree in America, and to see my own tradition through different eyes. (All of the rest of our group were Christians, and we had to promise not to baptize Sarah if she ever fell asleep in the break room...).
So, here's a link to an OpEd piece from today's New York Times, which helped me put Hannukah in some historical perspective. I'd encourage you to read the comments, too, as they were interesting, also.
Op-Ed Columnist The Hanukkah Story By DAVID BROOKS Published: December 11, 2009 Hanukkah is the most adult of holidays. Its lesson is that even the struggles that saved a people are dappled with tragic irony, complexity and unattractive choices.

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