I’ve been on leave this week and next as Mikayla’s parents have been visiting us from the States and we’ve been enjoying spending some time with them. I did want to share a few words about Chanukah and remind you of a few exciting things coming up.
All too often, the revolutionaries of the world become exactly the thing they rebelled against. Offended by the tyranny of others, well meaning people have often been inspired to undertake desperate measures to depose them. Yet, it’s never so easy. Inevitably, a regime of cruelty and violence requires an equal dose of both to be defeated. Slowly, the ideologues who want things to change start using the same weapons, tactics, and rhetoric as their enemies. The revolutionaries become the reactionaries and the cycle starts over.
History is replete with examples of this phenomenon, from Cromwell to Napoleon and from Caesar to Stalin. For Jews, we have a potent example in the ancient Israelite dynasty of the Maccabees, whose founding we commemorate on Chanukah. Faced with the Hellenistic Seleucids persecuting Jewish worship and ruling through tyranny, a single family, who earned the moniker HaMakkabi (the Hammer) led a revolt that banished Greek-Persian control from Israel and restored a Jewish kingdom. Truly a miracle after so many years of oppression, the tables quickly turned. To stay in power, the Maccabees had to become just as cruel as the people they deposed. Within a century, the Hasmonean dynasty they created was just as corrupt, just as violent, and just as Hellenic as their predecessors.
Revolutions won through bloodshed rarely resolve in peace. Chanukah is an inspiration about the power of a small group of people to defeat tyranny, but it’s also a caution against, in the desperation to hold on to power, becoming the thing that you revolted against in the first place.
As we celebrate Chanukah, we would do well to remember the dual meaning of this important holiday. Here at SAMS, there are lots of things going on to help celebrate Chanukah:
First, is our First Annual Chanukah Craft Fair! This is an awesome opportunity to buy gifts, pick up Chanukah essentials (dreidels, candles, etc) and to join us for a lovely afternoon of food, music and fun. We’ll have community artists- ceramics, knitting, jewellery making, and many more- many of whom will be teaching some of the things they do in addition to selling some of their wares.
Then, join us for an interfaith learning session between SAMS and St. Saviour’s Church (on Sandpit Lane). I’ll be teaching together with Fr. Richard Watson about Chanukah and Advent, their similarities and differences, in this shared time of winter light.
There’s also, of course, all of our Chanukah parties!
Please join us for all these wonderful events and to share in this season of learning and light. For further information, please contact the office firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01727 860642.
Shabbat Shalom, and an early Chag Urim Same’ach,