Chanukah to be observed at Shabbat dinner

The Humanistic Jewish Havurah celebrates Chanukah on Friday, December 7 at 6:00 p.m. at its Shabbat dinner at The Carlisle, 6945 Carlisle Court, Naples. The public is invited to attend.

Make your reservation by mailing a check payable to “HJH” in the amount of $30 per person to Joan Weinstein, Naples Walk, 15191 Cedarwood Lane # 2505, Naples, FL 34110. Be sure to include your email address and telephone number.

Jewish holidays celebrate and express our Jewish identity. They provide a link with Jewish history and a bond with other Jews. Humanistic Jews have adopted the forms and functions of Jewish religious and cultural practices as ways of experiencing Judaism while retaining their integrity as secular humanists. Historically, however, the celebration of almost all Jewish holidays has been a tribute to God. How, then, can Humanistic Jews who wish to maintain this vital connection with Judaism take part in these celebrations without compromising their beliefs?

It is important to remember that Jewish holidays were not invented by the priests and rabbis. In actuality, these holidays were appropriated by them and adapted to their ends, meanwhile undergoing long periods of evolution. In the beginning they were human celebrations of natural events, human achievements and human desires. When Humanistic Jews search out these human roots, they find festivals to embrace and enjoy, festivals that celebrate life.

To celebrate Jewish holidays humanistically is to celebrate the human element in Jewish tradition. It is to build bridges to the past while laying the foundation for a meaningful future.

Shabbat

The Sabbath goes back to an ancient “septemial” calendar that functioned in Hebrew life, based on the sacredness of the number seven.

The predominant feature of the traditional Sabbath observance is the cessation of work and commerce. The concept of a weekly suspension of activity appears in one of the oldest legal documents in biblical literature, Exodus 34:21: “Six days thou shalt work but on the seventh day thou shall rest.” The commandment to “keep” and “remember” the Sabbath is repeated in later portions of Exodus and Deuteronomy. Priestly Judaism linked the Sabbath observance to its belief that God had created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, as stated in the biblical book of Genesis.

For oppressed Jews in the Middle Ages, the Sabbath became a key element of Jewish life. Many of the customs observed today, such as the hours of study, elaborate meals, special table coverings, clothing and food developed during this period.

For Humanistic Jews, refraining from work is a matter of individual choice. Rather than a day of worship, Shabbat offers opportunities for both home and community celebrations, featuring candle lighting, wine and the eating of challah, with blessings that express human power and responsibility. Our Shabbat observances provide opportunities to learn about, articulate, discuss and celebrate Humanistic and Jewish history, philosophy and values. Humanistic Shabbat celebrations recognize the individual’s connection to humanity, family, community, nation and the world.

Chanukah

Chanukah is a celebration of human courage. Judah Maccabee, like his enemy Antiochus, was a religious fanatic who denied freedom of worship to those who opposed him, but he also was a man of integrity who was willing to declare and fight for what he firmly believed. His fearless example demonstrates the bravery that ennobles.

Much as the Maccabees seized control of their own lives, Humanistic Jews take their future into their own hands. They choose how they will live, seeking to behave courageously and with integrity. Chanukah is an endorsement of human daring, human ingenuity and hope.