Lights, gratitude, action!

December 2016

The American winter holiday season challenges us to con-front our relationship to consumerism, gratitude, and action. We are overwhelmed with the “shopping frenzy” sur-rounding the holidays and the need to buy, buy, buy.

Shopping has become a form of entertainment in the stores, on the computer, and even on the phone: It is an expectation of this time of gift-giving, in our faith community as well as among our non-Jewish friends. Chanukah and Christmas coin-cide this year — Oy! What an avalanche of toys and presents!

And how do we show our gratitude at this time? We say — or more often text — our thank yous to the giver of the item, but how much sincerity is in our hastily dispatched message? We have all witnessed the classic tantrums from the unfiltered child who does not get what he or she wanted — pajamas or clothing instead of the coveted popular toys in the TV ads — and refuses to say thank you to the heartbroken relative or friend.

 Sometimes we ourselves do not like the gift we receive; does that make our expression of gratitude false? Does this thank you count? Is it gratitude or lip service?

At the same time, there is the heightened awareness of action. Toy drives, coat drives, book drives, charity appeals, etc., inundate us: Our charitable contributions are due. We open our wallets to make our final donations for the year. Through these efforts we try to create harmony in this month of giving and receiving, of honesty and gratitude, of motiva-tion and action. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “A Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of faith.”

Let’s all be inspired by this quote and leap into action — action of mindfulness of our behaviors, action of thoughtfulness, and action of generosity of means and spirit.

The Education Department is dedicating this month to action and awareness in tribute to the new CAI brand — “Creating Amazing Individuals” — created by our teacher and friend Renee Buckler. Look to our calendar for a month filled with “amazing” opportunities and get involved!

Our annual Jewish Book Fair is Dec. 7-11; a whole volume of thanks to Education Cabinet cochairs Mandi Perlmutter and Dorie Eisenstein, Book Fair chair Bonnie Rosenfeld, and a corps of dedicated volunteers.

As Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, approaches, may we all increase the light of action to our sacred commu-nity, with the aim of illuminating the darkness.

 Chag Urim Sameyach! Happy Chanukah Lights!

Sun, November 19 2017 1 Kislev 5778