What Lights Your Fire? Alumni Hanukkah Blessings
Each night of Hanukkah AVODAH Alumni wrote a blessing to serve as reminders of the kind of analysis they did during their Corps year, and the types of reflections they have continued to do on their journeys as Jewish agents for social change. Happy Hanukkah!
We Are in the River Together by Wendy Mironov (CHI 08-09)
On this last night of Hanukkah, as we celebrate the miracle of light, I want to share with you a few words that have been some of the most bright and uplifting of the year for me- This is a message shared by the Elders of the Hopi Nation of Oriabi, Arizona. Click here to read the blessing for night eight.
Making the 'Impossible' Possible by Sara Mosenkis (DC 08-09)
We all feel alone sometimes. Insignificant. Disconnected. How many times do you think groups tried and failed to overthrow the Assyrian Greeks before the Maccabees? How many people do you imagine suggested a rebellion to their neighbors and were shot down with discouragement, fear of losing, or worse, fear of winning and actually taking control of their own destiny and the future of their people? One of my key takeaways from AVODAH was about the power of collective action, of joining together to do something you were scared wasn't possible - or maybe you were scared it was possible. Click here to read the blessing for night seven.
Light by Becca Linden (CHI 06-07)
The miracle that we commemorate with these lights, and the building of the lights, mirrors events we have witnessed this past year around the world - the overthrowing of oppressors in improbable victories that have dominoed to other victories. Revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, have led to uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, and Morocco among others. Click here to read the blessing for night six.
Re-dedication by Miriam Grossman (DC 09-10)
It is hard enough to build sacred space, to take to the streets, to dedicate yourself to the work of creating justice. It is an even harder feat to see your space desecrated, your movement dissipate, or to feel the work that once ignited you begin to wear you down- and to keep going. Hannukah literally means dedication, but on this holiday we mark the re-dedication of the Temple after it was desecrated. In reality re-dedicating ourselves to the struggles we believe in is a far more demanding challenge then our initial commitment. Click here to read the blessing for night five.
Shining Your Light by Sarah Beller (DC 03-04)
"In the window you can see the glow of the menorah on newly fallen snow," goes the children's song. One of the core mitzvot of Hanukkah is to "publicize the miracle" (in Aramaic, pirsumay nisa) - hence lighting the candles near a front window, where passersby can see them. What does publicizing the miracle mean for us? Click here to read the blessing for night four.
Human Determination or God's Saving Spirit? by Yaeli Bronstein (NOLA 08-09)
Rethink and VAYLA are two New Orleans youth organizations (current and former AVODAH placements) where young people are determining the change they want to see in their schools. They are standing up and speaking out to the leadership to make that change a reality. As I witness the powerful work of these passionate youth leaders and staff, I see a harmony emerge. Thoughtful reflection and self-evaluation is critical to support and nurture the actions we take to combat injustice in our communities and beyond. Click here to read the blessing for night three.
Reflection on Identity by Ben Fogel (CHI 08-09)
I have a book of reflections from Jews around the world from different backgrounds who share what being Jewish means to them. One of my favorite pieces is by Liz Lerman, who founded a dance organization in Washington, D.C. She writes, "I am Jewish because my mother was Jewish. I inherited her restlessness abut God, women, and empty prayers. But my father was an ecstatic Jew whose every step- whether organizing against segregation or teaching Hebrew school kids about the evils of real estate speculation- declared his commitment to making the world a better place. "This is what it means to be Jewish," he told me over and over." Click here to read the blessing for night two.
A Little Bit Can Go a Long Way by Shira Vardi (NY 02-03)
I cannot change someone's health status, I cannot change a widow's empty house, I cannot change immigration and health care laws overnight, but over and over, with an open heart, an extended hand and information, I can help people feel the connection among all of us, and thereby, I can remind them of their strength to keep going. This year, at times when suffering seems overwhelming, may we be each others' miracles, and together make the world a better place. Click here to read the blessing for night one.